February 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

ALA President Brings Conference Goers to Their Feet | SLJ Summit 2013

Photo by Jack Plunkett/AP Images for SLJ

Speaking on Sunday morning, September 29, at School Library Journal’s Leadership Summit in Austin, TX, American Library Association (ALA) President Barbara Stripling elaborated on her presidential initiative, “Libraries Change Lives.” She cited five areas where librarians impact a student’s life: literacy, inquiry, thinking, equity and diversity, and social and emotional growth.

For each area, Stripling also noted an inherent challenge. Discussing literacy, she commented that “Librarians play a huge role…and it’s not just providing the right books.” She observed that today’s students must produce, create, and share to become independent learners. With many classroom teachers unable or not prepared to teach digital literacy, that’s a role librarians must assume.

Other challenges facing librarians? The need to understand the different inquiry skills required of print and digital, to curate, to foster within students the attitudes essential for their success, and to create spaces where all students feel safe and respected.

Under Stripling’s leadership, ALA has rolled out the “Declaration for the Right to Libraries,” a document affirming the public’s right to quality libraries, as places that “empower individuals,” “support literacy and lifelong learning,” strengthen families and our nation, serve as “great equalizers,” “build communities,” “protect our right to know,” “advance research and scholarship,” preserve our “cultural heritage,” and “help us better understand each other.”

Imploring those present to demand that their communities stand with the profession as it asserts all students’ right to a library, Stripling brought the crowd to their feet. She encouraged librarians to hold signing parties and to use the document to engage with their communities. The Declaration is available in several languages, and can be downloaded from the ALA website.

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Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.