Education Businesses, Associations Demand Increase in School Library Funding
Washington, D.C. ― A coalition of more than 20 education businesses, associations and media groups ― including Scholastic Inc., ESCO Information Services and the Association of American Publishers ― called (pdf) on the U.S. Congress to support dedicated school library funding in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which provides federal funding for national K-12 education programs.
The coalition specifically asks Congress to incorporate the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act in ESEA reauthorization, which would expand federal investment in school libraries in order to offer students the tools they need to develop critical thinking, digital, and research skills. Coalition leaders sent the joint letter to U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA). Coalition members include Baker & Taylor, OverDrive, Booklist Publications, Bound to Stay Bound Books, DEMCO Inc. and the Junior Library Guild, among others.
“For our society and our economy to succeed, schools must serve as equalizers that provide all students with access to the resources and instruction they need to thrive academically and to become productive and engaged citizens,” coalition members wrote in a letter sent (pdf) to Congress. “That goal cannot be met without strong, professionally staffed school libraries. In too many schools across the nation, however, school library budgets and school librarian positions are being cut. Including SKILLS in ESEA will meaningfully contribute to reversing that cripplingly counterproductive trend.”
Recent data available from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveals that approximately 8,830 public schools across the nation do not have a school library and, among those that do, nearly 17,000 additional schools do not have a full or part-time state-certified school librarian on staff.
“We support the nation's leading educational businesses and groups in calling for federal support for highly effective school library programs,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office. “It is time that Congress recognized that students who have access to quality school libraries and supportive school librarians learn more, get better grades and score higher on standardized tests.”
About the American Library Association
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 55,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.