April 29, 2017

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Our Post-Election Commitment | Editor’s Note

We’re in an unprecedented place for education and library coverage. It’s time to speak to the staff as well as to our readers.

postelectioneditorial_kiThis is the story of our time, with the decisions of President-elect Trump and his new administration poised to impact education policy, libraries, and funding, among multiple issues that affect our communities. It is vital for School Library Journal (SLJ) to provide related coverage. Rather than jumping on any media bandwagon, as one commenter to our story “After Election, Librarians, Book Creators Vow To Support Children,” has suggested, this is our job.

Our November 11, 2016 news piece reported the reaction postelection as it has occurred in schools and libraries, from Washington, DC, to Colorado. SLJ will continue to track the story in the unique beat that we occupy, covering K–12 schools and libraries through news reporting and features, as well as other content and programming to serve the profession.

We’ve also taken a leadership role in advocating for diversity and inclusion, from our dedicated 2014 print issue to cultural literacy training for our editors and reviewers. We Need Diverse Books has been a partner. A long-standing diversity policy of SLJ and sister publication Library Journal outlines proactive guidelines for our events. In an ongoing effort spearheaded by reviews director Kiera Parrott, we seek to expand the diversity of our contributors, particularly reviewers.

Looking ahead, we’ve planned a dedicated issue on equity in spring 2017. It’s the logical next step from the diversity conversation toward the active pursuit of a more equitable society, especially for our children, and that’s never been more important.

With incidents of bigotry and harassment reported around the country, American Library Association President Julie Todaro has issued a statement on the role of libraries. “From children acting out in schools to adults participating in violent acts, it is clear that our nation is struggling in the wake of this election,” she wrote. “Our nation’s libraries serve all community members, including people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the most vulnerable in our communities…” Meanwhile, librarian and blogger Nina Lindsay has helped launch an “Open Forum on Diversity, Inclusion, and Our Work, Post-Election” on the Association for Library Service to Children website.

“We need books now more than we ever have,” declared Lisa Lucas, the National Book Foundation’s executive director, speaking at last night’s National Book Award ceremony. It was an energizing vibe at the event, primarily celebratory around the role of books as a source of enlightenment and solace. Yet equally powerful and referenced throughout the glitzy evening was the specter of inequality and racial injustice in a political and societal landscape that seems uncertain.

As a kid, John Lewis was told that a library card was for whites only, the Congressman shared tearfully as he accepted top honors for young people’s literature for March: Book Three, alongside his co-creators Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. The gratitude in Lewis’s account of a teacher who encouraged him to “read, child, read” was echoed by Aydin, who credited the library for opening doors in his life.

Two boys without books at home—one African American, the other, son of a Muslim immigrant—grow up to win a National Book Award helped by public libraries and caring teachers.

That’s the America we’ll fight for.

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Kathy Ishizuka About Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka (kishizuka@mediasourceinc.com@kishizuka on Twitter) is the Executive Editor of  School Library Journal.

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