January 16, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

The International Association of School Librarianship Will Publish Book Series with Libraries Unlimited

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Diljit Singh, president of IASL, is located in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia / All photos courtesy of IASL

The International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) is partnering with Libraries Unlimited (LU), a professional development arm for librarians and educators with publisher ABC-CLIO, to put out a series of professional development books covering topics and trends relevant to school librarians globally, according to an LU press release dated August 25.

Prior to this publishing partnership, LU’s published content has not been specifically geared towards school libraries, nor has it reached an international school library community. The collaboration gives the organization access to IASL’s rich archives of research papers made available at IASL annual conferences and “through agencies with whom we have agreements… ERIC, EBSCO, and ProQuest, ” says IASL President Diljit Singh who resides in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia.

The partnership will also expand IASL’s ability to reach its members beyond its quarterly newsletters and biannual journal publications, states Singh. (The newsletter and journal are free to IASL members and available to non-members for a subscription.)

The topics of the book series will be culled from recent IASL conference papers—and IASL member interests—with additional research to be added by LU’s slate of expert authors, along with a publications committee composed of IASL members, Singh says. LU will edit, package, and publish the books in paper and digital forms—while IASL will advertise the books to their members.

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A school library in Hungary.

The first title in the series will be published in June 2015 and will highlight collaboration practices for school librarians, says Blanche Woolls, the consulting editor of LU, who adds that “inquiry learning” is one of the possible future topics. Singh also hopes to publish research on the uses of technology, as well as IASL’s main missions: education, funding, and policy advocacy for school libraries around the globe.

“One of the things about this type of [collaborative] literature is that… [IASL and LU] have common problems,” Woolls says. “We are [both] struggling for funding, for attention to the fact that children need school libraries.” She adds that many of the issues have global relevance.

Irene Reid, the head librarian at the Westville Girls’ High School in Durban, South Africa, agrees. “School librarians’ issues are very similar across all cultures and just vary in terms of the context of the problem.”

Reid is also excited about the lasting effects of the partnership and its collective continuing education. She feels that the “global collaborative learning” fostered by the partnership will empower school librarians everywhere and “the books will help school librarians understand one another worldwide.”

The partnership does not cost IASL—or its members—anything. In fact, it should generate revenue, says Singh, which will be “used for future conferences, awards, and research.”

According to Woolls, the books will be “moderately priced” similar to comparative titles offered by other publishers. However, she acknowledges that for school librarians in developing countries even “moderately priced books… may be [difficult to purchase].”

Singh is confident the partnership will enable the sharing of best practices among school librarians across borders and cultures.


Mythili Sampathkumar is a UN reporter and freelance journalist based in NYC and loves visiting old libraries and used book stores in every city she travels. Follow her on Twitter @RestlessRani.

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