May 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

EveryLibrary Petition to Encourage Adherence to ESSA Provisions at Local Level

Across the country, when librarians and library services are cut, somebody fights back. Sometimes, even the students rally to have their beloved librarian reinstated. In other communities it’s a Council of Elders that’s demanding thousands of students have certified librarians assigned to their schools. Now EveryLibrary, the first national political action committee (PAC) for libraries and the national library PAC, has created a petition.

With passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), school library programs and school librarian positions are part of federal education policy and law. Its “authorizing language” recommends them, and sets up a federal system to support them. However, ESSA doesn’t require school librarians. That’s why EveryLibrary is asking state and local education agencies and governments to implement the provisions of ESSA through the petition.

Another purpose of the effort is to identify library supporters.  “If politicians knew that we could immediately mobilize thousands of supporters for or against a bill or ballot measure or political action, they would be more likely to favor libraries in legislation,” says Patrick (P.C.) Sweeney, board member and political director of EveryLibrary.

“One of the big issues is that ….we simply don’t know who supports libraries in a community or why,” says Sweeney. Some people may strongly support school libraries. Others may support public libraries because of services to seniors, or businesses, or job seekers.That makes it hard to craft messaging. Complicating things further, he explains, is the fact that library support can come from “all sides of the aisle.” Library supporters don’t fall along party lines, so the publicly available voter files aren’t of much use with library campaigns.

At the time of this posting, the petition has 1,228 signatures. “For now, our realistic goal is 250,000 identified library supporters in the next year, although I’d love to shoot for one million,” says Sweeney. The data collected would be available to local library campaigns through EveryLibrary.

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Christina Vercelletto About Christina Vercelletto

Christina Vercelletto is School Library Journal’s former news editor. An award-winning writer and editor, Vercelletto has held staff positions at Babytalk, Parenting, Scholastic Parent & Child, and

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