Hello, fall. Time to take stock as well as plan. Here’s an update, thus far. | Editor's Note

It’s September, and we look to another school year, although certainly not an ordinary one. We at SLJ seek to provide the content and context to serve our readers in a ­remarkable time. I want to update you on recent efforts.

It’s September, and we look to another school year, although certainly not an ordinary one. We at SLJ are right here with you and seeking to provide the content and context to serve our readers in a ­remarkable time. 
I want to update you on recent efforts.

SLJ Summit

Mark your calendars for Thursday, October 28. The editorially driven program will offer concurrent sessions, with a focus on providing information and practical takeaway for attendees to enlighten their perspective and their practice. 
Online reading groups flourished during the pandemic. Case in point: Black Girls with Magic and Books. Its founder, author Dhonielle Clayton, among other trailblazers in this “book club-plus” will share how they formed, with tips for bringing together people around reading, social connection, and community-building.

Addressing race and racism in schools has become a national flashpoint, with a growing number of state legislatures passing laws on what can or cannot be broached in classrooms (see our lead news story). “When ‘Anti-Critical Race Theory’ Comes for Library Collections,” a session at the Summit, will offer advice and resources from the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Hear, too, from school librarians who have faced recent book challenges. Other sessions will consider eliminating bias in the 145-year-old Dewey Decimal System; innovations in mobile library outreach to children; fostering professional learning communities through TikTok and Clubhouse, and much more.

New staff

We are pleased to welcome Amanda ­Mastrull, our new editor of YA reviews, and Florence Simmons, who assumes the recently created position of generalist associate editor, also in reviews. Mastrull returns to SLJ—she started with us as a book room assistant in 2013. Mastrull’s an experienced hand at both writing and editing reviews, and notably is “­passionate about YA,” she told me. Simmons has served as reviews editor at Taylor & Francis Group and reviewed children’s books for Booklist. She also founded “Book Nerds Across America,” a blog ­dedicated to reviews of books for kids and teens. With a Master’s degree in journalism, Simmons brings a range of experience to the team, along with an infectious enthusiasm for books. 

School libraries reporting project

Librarian positions have declined by 20 percent in K–12 schools, according to the latest research. It’s the personal stories of librarians and the work they do serving children that SLJ will convey in reporting led by news editor Kara Yorio.

“The state of school librarians cannot be found solely in the statistics,” she writes in a summary of the project, slated to publish in November. With librarians most commonly missing from communities of highest need, this is an equity issue of national import.

On the learning curve

The effort to better serve SLJ’s mission and the community continues on multiple fronts. A survey of our reviewer corps will help us assess gaps in representation. Outreach to leadership of the national associations of librarians of color has helped forge connections to enhance our work and led to a partnership with the Black Caucus of ALA.

As a journalism organization, we rely on related principles to maintain important standards. Citing here support from the Society of Professional Journalists and Andy Schotz, SPJ ethics committee; and the Poynter ­Institute, including Doris Truong, Poynter’s director of training and diversity. 

Readers and contributors have provided ­important feedback. In gratitude for their perspective, I want to personally acknowledge K.C. Boyd, Shauntee ­Burns-Simpson, Edi Campbell, Candice Mack, Rachel Payne, and Julia Torres. Thank you.



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