April 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

School Librarians Need Support | Feedback

The following feedback is in response to Rebecca T. Miller’s editorial, “It’s Time to Step Up” (June 2013, p. 11) about the need for the American Library Association (ALA) to become actively engaged in advocating for school librarians and provide administrators with solid data on their value to our children’s success.

In my region, I have seen two school districts vote to eliminate school library media specialists in the last months. The problem we encountered when trying to engage in and support advocacy is that we could not locate a clear, brief, impactful, compelling statement describing why school library media specialists are essential.

We could not find an op-ed like piece that said these are the three reasons why school media library media specialists are necessary for children’s success in school. The studies are good, but alone they aren’t sufficient. We found nothing that would stir the public to action or tell them why they should care. This should be easy to find on the ALA or the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) web pages, but it’s not. Until ALA gets out a brief, clear, powerful message, things will only get worse. And ALA is capable of doing incredibly effective advocacy communications. This is not rocket science—just put the message out!

Charlie Parker,
Executive Director
Tampa Bay Library Consortium, FL


Well said and well timed, Rebecca! We can all gain by pushing ALA to strengthen support for school libraries. Effective education is in everyone’s best interests, and teacher librarians are at the heart of student learning. Thanks also for SLJ’s article on the Strengthening America’s Schools Act (“New Education Bill Calls for Effective School Libraries, Extra Helping, June 5, 2013), introduced in the Senate on June 4 by Tom Harkin (D-IA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Jack Reed (D-RI). It includes strong provisions for effective school library programs and is the first piece of legislation to recognize the role school library programs play in student learning since 1965, according to ALA.

Craig Seasholes,
Sanislo Elementary
Seattle Public Schools, WA


Thank you for your compelling editorial. I agree! Barbara Stripling’s ALA presidency is timely and her expertise and passion for school libraries will chart new thinking about the value of school library programming and literacy instruction in the education of youth.

Della Curtis, Coordinator
Office of Library Information Services
Baltimore County Public Schools, MD

Cover design

I love getting the latest copy of School Library Journal, but I am often confused by your choice of covers. There are so many creative possibilities. Although photographs of notable people are interesting, they don’t necessarily serve as a great introduction to the latest issue. How about considering covers which show more about our students and various school environments?

Jill Millard, Librarian
Shaler Area Middle School
Glenshaw, PA


Mark Tuchman, SLJ’s art director, responds: Our cover strategy is simply to create compelling covers that accurately represent the lead feature (or in the case of this month’s SLJ, the issue theme). You’re right that there have been more portrait covers lately, but this hasn’t been intentional. See some of my favorite covers.


Correction: “Test Drive: Is This It for the Nook?” (June 2013, p. 13) included some erroneous information. The statement “Boasting the only E Ink display as readable in the dark bedroom as on a sunny beach, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight…is the best dedicated ereader on the planet” is incorrect. Since the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight debuted in April 2012, competitors have released similar front-lit E Ink products: Kindle Paperwhite became available in Oct. 2012; Kobo Glo began selling in the U.S. about Nov. 2012; and the Onyx Boox i62HD Firefly is now available in Europe.