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September 18, 2014

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Oregon Merges Library Associations to Focus on Literacy

The Oregon Library Association and the Oregon Association of School Libraries have merged, giving the state a more robust organization that will focus on literacy.

“The ultimate purpose of the merger was to create an organization that promotes information literacy and reading motivation for all Oregonians, from birth through adulthood,” says Abigail Elder, president of the Oregon Library Association (OLA).

 Oregon Merges Library Associations to Focus on LiteracyA sponsor of the annual Oregon Battle of the Books and the Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Awards, the Oregon Association of School Libraries (OASL) aims to ensure that students and educators are “effective users of ideas and information” and encourages the pursuit of “excellence in school library media programs.” With the two associations under one umbrella, all library staff will “work collaboratively to effectively serve the needs of all,” explains Elder. OASL officially becomes a division of OLA July 12.

OLA and OASL members already work closely on library summer reading programs, the Oregon Readers Choice Award, and the Oregon Battle of the Books program, which engages more than 120,000 young readers from across the state. OLA’s Association of College and Research Libraries division also collaborates closely with school librarians on Common Core State Standards, information literacy skills, and preparing students for higher education and workforce transition, Elder says.

With help from the Oregon State Library, OLA and OASL also support the Oregon School Library Information System (OSLIS), which provides low-cost access to high-quality information resources and an information literacy curriculum for students, teachers, librarians, and other educators.

When it comes to legislative issues, the two organizations will continue to work together on the national and state level, especially as school budget cuts continue to diminish the role of media specialists.

“All OLA members are closely monitoring the situation in school districts across the state,” Elder says. “We are advocating for school librarians and strong school libraries, while also finding ways to support students, teachers and families in locations where school library services have been slashed.”

For the 2009-2010 school year, Oregon had 319 certified librarians serving 1,300 school. “However, we are in flux with school libraries—they are declining quickly,” Elder says. “By the end of this school year, we will have lost at least 50 school librarians.”

Oregon mandates school librarians but the current law has no teeth. “Many districts are cutting teacher-librarians for budgetary reasons and there have been no consequences from the state,” Elder says.

This article originally appeared in the newsletter Extra Helping. Go here to subscribe.

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