and a recipient of a 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Special Legislative Commission on School Libraries in Massachusetts wrapped up four years of work this winter. A report was submitted to the Legislature, and recommendations were approved by the Commissioners. Good news, right?
And it is! For the first time, we have:
- Evidence we can share with decision makers about areas where equity is lacking in our school library programs
- Recommendations that are specific, have the backing of the library and educational communities, and come with a timeline and steps for implementation
- Allies! Commission members came from DESE, MTA, AFT, MBLC and the Legislature
- Improved access to school librarians and school libraries
- Improved access to information resources
- Improved access to information technology
- Improved access to funding
- Improved access to instruction
This is great! So…. now what?
Now that we have good information (librarians are great when they have good information!), we need to act. The Legislature only needs to accept our recommendations, but they don’t need to do anything else.
Action on these recommendations requires a push from us. MSLA is organizing an advocacy effort to use the work of the Commission to push to see the recommendations become the reality for Massachusetts students. The MSLA Board is excited and committed. Here are some exciting steps MSLA is already taking:
- Members of the Commission have agreed to work with MSLA to develop an advocacy plan that is strategic, realistic, and manageable.
- More than 30 MSLA members and allies have agreed via a survey launched in March to actively help with this initiative.
- Salem State University agreed to serve as a repository for our research and help the Commission researchers to organize and promote the study findings and recommendations.
- Judy Marcella, who served as DESE’s liaison to the Commission, is hosting a lunchtime round table with DESE staff in May where we can present our findings and get feedback from those in a position to implement many recommendations.
- We are reaching out to other allies from the Commission, such as the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, to see where we can extend our reach beyond the school library community.
- Brainstorm manageable and effective tools and steps we can take individually and as a group to put these recommendations in place.
- Identify allies at the local level throughout Massachusetts—teachers, administrators, school committee members, students, parents, legislators, and community members who are eager to see stronger and more equitable school library programs.
- Identify opportunities to connect our recommendations to larger efforts in the educational and library communities. For example, if we hear that the Legislature is taking a serious look at the Foundation Budget for Education, MSLA members can play an important role in reaching out to legislators about the need to include library programs in the state funding formula.
- Develop materials that we can use at the local and state level to explain our recommendations and evaluate individual schools and districts to gather additional information about where there are inequities and start to address them.
We will be in touch soon! Then watch on the MSLA listserv, Forum and social media feeds for additional ways to connect to our work. Remember, we are the people we’ve been waiting for. Massachusetts kids need school libraries and it’s up to us to make sure they have them.