JUNE 19, 2017
Focus Is to Return Librarians to Schools, Expand Funding Equitably in Districts
MCHENRY, IL – Follett announced today it is intensifying its support of K-12 school libraries and librarians by partnering with EveryLibrary, a Chicago-based political action committee dedicated to advocating for libraries and librarians at the state level. The Follett-EveryLibrary partnership will initially focus its work with school library associations in six states: Illinois, Washington, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida, and Mississippi.
Though each state effort will be different, according to EveryLibrary’s John Chrastka, the goals will be similarly focused to bring back school librarians to schools and expand funding equitably across schools and districts. Chrastka explained Follett’s support of the initiative will allow EveryLibrary to execute targeted outreach and activism in the targeted states, and help bring attention to pending bills in state legislatures, such as Pennsylvania and Nevada, which are calling for more librarians in each school.
Further, Chrastka said the partnership will help school library associations — most notably in Florida, Washington, and Illinois — to address ongoing cuts that state budget choices are forcing on schools and districts.
“From coast to coast, the issues are the same — it’s been too easy to cut school library programs and school librarians,” Chrastka said. “Follett’s leadership in supporting our work allows EveryLibrary to be closely aligned with each of these state teams over the long haul. We can build on our successes and work to address this school librarian crisis in schools and districts across the country.”
Simultaneously, a new EveryLibrary website, SaveSchoolLibrarians.org, has been launched. It is designed to simplify the process for concerned parents and stakeholders to make their voices heard for school libraries and librarians. Chrastka said the site has the ability to support several dozen petitions concurrently across the country, while serving as the single point of advocacy and activism contact for key school library issues.
“EveryLibrary is here to help advise on the right tactics to make change happen and, with Follett's support,” he said, “we can put the power of social advertising to work reaching and activating more potential local supporters than ever before.”
Patti Fleser, President of the Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA), which promotes efforts that ensure every student has equitable access to information provided by a licensed school librarian, is grateful for the support emanating out of the Follett-EveryLibrary partnership.
“It is imperative the public understand the importance of school librarians and strong library programs for the students of Illinois,” Fleser said. “Between ISLMA, EveryLibrary, and Follett, we will continue this effort as we focus on restoring licensed school librarians to districts in Illinois.”
To that end, a “Rally to Restore Illinois School Librarians” has been scheduled at noon Friday (June 23) in the James R. Thompson (State of Illinois Building) Courtyard in downtown Chicago. The demonstration will be held in support of licensed school librarian positions and school library program budgets in all Illinois K-12 schools. Chicago is serving as host to the American Library Association’s annual conference and expo, which begins Thursday (June 22) and runs through Tuesday (June 27).
“We are proud to not only be a sponsor of ISLMA and stand up for school librarians and libraries in our home state of Illinois, but also throughout the country,” said Nader Qaimari, President, Follett School Solutions. “We are confident our support of EveryLibrary will create a heightened awareness of the leadership roles future-ready K-12 libraries and librarians can play in our schools and districts.
The EveryLibrary partnership is the latest example of Follett’s advocacy in this area. Follett also formed Project Connect, a national initiative to advocate for school libraries and elevate the role of the librarian in K-12 schools, and actively supports Future Ready Schools® (FRS) as the exclusive sponsor of Future Ready Librarians® (FRL).
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