School Librarian Legislation, Summer Jobs, and More | News Bites

Legislation, book vending machines, summer jobs at the library, and more, in this edition of News Bites.
A few state legislators in Michigan recently proposed multiple bills that would require certified librarians in every public school. As library proponents everywhere watch to see if those bills will pass, Nashville teens have summer jobs at the library, JetBlue and Simon & Schuster put free book vending machines in the Bay Area, McGraw-Hill Education and the Denver Public Library are preparing for the next school year, and there are awards, too.  

legislators create bills for certified librarian in every school

Michigan state lawmakers Adam Zemke, Darrin Camilleri, and Christine Greig introduced a package of bills that will require certified librarians in every public school throughout the state. Adam Zemke

Adam Zemke

Currently, only eight percent of schools in Michigan have a certified school librarian on staff, and Michigan ranks 47th in the country for its students-to-librarians ratio, according to EveryLibrary. The trio's bills pushed for the mandatory librarian positions for the 2018–19 school year and called for positions based on the size of the school. For a school with fewer than 300 students, there would be one “half-time” certified library media specialist; a school with 300–1,499 students would have at least one full-time LMS; and a school with 1,500 or more students would be required to have at least two full-time positions. They also required that someone staff the library when the librarian isn’t there, but mandated that that person not provide any instruction unless a certified teacher.

Darrin Camilleri

The legislators wrote an op-ed for Bridge, a Michigan news website, to explain their reason for the proposed legislation. “The foundation on which that quality education is built is literacy, yet it is no secret that Michigan’s kids are facing a crisis,” they wrote. “While that information is sadly not news, what may be shocking is that every prison in the state of Michigan is required to have a library with a certified librarian, yet we don’t set the same standard for our schools.

Christine Greig

“Support for school libraries in Michigan has been declining over the last decade. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of school librarians in Michigan declined by 54 percent. Michigan is now ranked 47th in the nation in our ratio of students to certified librarians and, as of 2012, less than 10 percent of Michigan public schools employ a full-time certified media specialist (the new school librarian). At the same time, however, the need for services provided by school libraries with certified media specialists is growing. “Libraries function as an essential component of a well-rounded learning experience, providing space to combine literacy, creativity and curiosity — and we can no longer afford to ignore the consequences of overlooking this invaluable resource.”

Nashville teens get summer library jobs

In North Carolina, 40 teens will spend part of their summer break working at the Nashville Public Library (NPL), thanks to the NPL Foundation (NPLF)—with a $30,000 donation from the Bank of America Foundation—Nashville Career Advancement Center, and a county initiative to employ young people called Opportunity NOW. They will staff 21 locations across the city. Students can work up to 28 hours a week and earn $9 an hour doing various tasks including helping NPL’s Digital Literacy team assist seniors with technology needs, handling computer skills training, assisting patrons and visitors with the library collection, working with NPL staff on workshops, events, storytimes, and classes, and assisting at the NPLF.

McGraw-Hill Education donates to Read Aloud

McGraw-Hill Education made a donation to Denver Public Library's Read Aloud program for the 2018–2019 school year. With the support, more than 6,000 children will receive a book through the program. The donation will also help to train storytime volunteers from various libraries and educational centers across the Denver area. The Read Aloud program reaches 350 preschool classrooms, particularly educationally at-risk and low-income students, with volunteers and library staff members providing weekly storytimes to children across various educational centers. Readers come in once a week for 14 to 17 weeks during the year. Over the course of the school year, children will hear approximately 140 books, which are chosen by Read Aloud staff. At the end of each semester, each child receives a new book to take home.

bay area gets book vending machines

JetBlue and Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing will install five free book vending machines in San Francisco and Oakland in the last week of June as part of the airline's annual Soar with Reading program. The initiative tries to tackle book deserts by getting age-appropriate titles to children in underserved communities. The custom vending machines, from Innovative Vending Solutions, will distribute 100,000 books throughout the summer. Author events will also take place throughout the summer.

Kids choose a book from a custom book vending machine during JetBlue's Soar with Reading event at The Matrix Center on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, in Detroit. JetBlue's Soar with Reading installed five custom book vending machines to distribute free books to children in Detroit all summer long. (Rick Osentoski/AP Images for JetBlue's Soar with Reading Program)

This is the fourth year JetBlue has funded the book vending program. Previously, the vending machines were in Fort Lauderdale, FL; Detroit; and Washington, DC. In addition, this summer, JetBlue will launch #BookWithUs, asking customers and community members to vote for the city they would like to win $25,000 in children’s books and a “celebrity reading room makeover” for a local community organization.

New Visions Awards

Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, announced the results of the fifth annual New Visions Award for new authors of color. The award is given to a middle grade or young adult manuscript. Winners receive a cash prize and a publishing contract with Lee & Low Books. This year, two manuscripts were chosen: Twin Flames, a YA fantasy by Olivia Abtahi, a film director and the daughter of Iranian and Argentinian political refugees; and The Regent Enigma, a middle grade novel by Luisana Duarte Armendáriz, who was born in Mexico and is now a graduate student at Simmons College pursuing a dual masters degree in children’s literature and writing for children. The titles will be published by Tu Books.

More Awards

2018 South Asia Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature   Manjhi Moves a Mountain (K-3) by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Danny Popovici Outside In (Gr 4-8) by Jennifer Bradbury You Bring the Distant Near (Gr 9-12) by Mitali Perkins Honor Books: Maharani the Cow by Christy Shoba Sudhir, illustrated by Nancy Raj (Gr 2-4); Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (Gr 3-6); Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar The inaugural Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards in speculative fiction from Dartmouth’s Neukom Institute: Debut Speculative Fiction: Best Worst American by Juan Martinez Speculative Fiction, Open Category: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar  (cowinner) and On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis (cowinner)

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