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I am running for American Library Association President and would welcome your ideas, suggestions and concerns.

To contact me off-blog, feel free to e-mail me at  either my personal e-mail <> or my campaign e-mail <> 

I'd love to hear from you--Sara


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Two biggest challenges for public libraries?

One of the sets of questions I have had to answer as a candidate for the ALA presidency was for the PLA blog. Here is my answer; what other ideas should we consider?


The two most critical challenges to public libraries today are: adequate funding

and technology’s demands.

Adequate funding – It is critical for a strong and successful public library to receive adequate funding. We all know the economy has gone sour. That puts libraries in direct competition with all other government services. We need to create a strong core of advocates to speak loudly for us through conscious, deliberate and continuous marketing and public relations. Libraries, librarians and trustees need to be forceful in their efforts to secure adequate operating revenues. It may mean placing a proposition on a ballot for a first time, lobbying with elected officials, and/or organizing grassroots campaigns for support. ALA and PLA have been in the forefront of working with librarians and trustees on advocacy. We must strengthen our efforts as professional leaders and as the professional organization for all librarians. We need to tell our stories about successes using libraries, the “people’s university.”  ALA and PLA need to be able to get down to the grassroots - through regionalized programs, webinars, interactive learning via our websites, whatever delivery method we can utilize. We need to make it easy for all libraries to access the needed information to secure their needed funding.

Technology – Technology is a challenge that is both exciting and frustrating. Libraries struggle to keep up with in-house needs and user demands. Insufficient bandwidth issues are increasing as users place more demands on library service. New applications give us pause – RSS feeds, blogs, Facebook and Twitter and whatever’s next place – and place increased demands on staff. We must address basic computer needs as well as services like Millennials and teens who want reference answers texted to them. ALA and PLA can create organizational synergy so that each division can create meaningful professional development, with LITA and LLAMA and other divisions to provide common solutions. There are tremendous opportunities for cooperation and I believe it’s time to work collectively to especially keeping libraries at the forefront with technology. The expertise is there and ALA and PLA can deliver it.


School Libraries must be included in ESEA reauthorization

ESEA re-authorization has "room" for including school libraries in school reform, replacing NCLB. strengthening schools and increasing student achievment and readiness for college and life. Strong school libraries are part of the learning continuum of all libraries and need support from all librarians, parents, teachers and the community. The ALA Washington Office will be promoting the talking points they developed on the Legislative Action Center very soon (LSTA needs our support now and it's easy from there) but it's time to make those phone calls and visits to legislators NOW. Here they are:


We want Congress to include provisions in the reauthorization of ESEA to improve academic achievement by ensuring our public schools have libraries staffed by state-licensed school librarians.

  • 21st century school library programs provide students with more than just books selected to hone readers’ developing skills and to instill a love of reading. While reading and books are a mainstay of the school library program, today’s school libraries are also sophisticated learning environments that provide the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace – but only when staffed by qualified professionals trained to collaborate with teachers and engage students meaningfully with information that matters to them both in the classroom and in the real world.
  • School librarians know the school’s curriculum and effective techniques necessary to cross disciplines and integrate information and technology literacy. They have collaboration skills for effective participation in the school improvement process through involvement in curriculum development, as well as implementation and evaluation with individual educators and departmental committees, and are well-positioned to participate in the improvement of data-based assessment systems.
  • Not surprisingly, research repeatedly shows that a well-funded and fully staffed school library with a state-licensed school librarian is an integral component of a student’s successful education.
  • Because ESEA does not highlight the direct correlation between a school library (staffed by a state-licensed school librarian) and increased student academic achievement, library resource budgets are increasingly being used to mitigate the effects of budgetary shortfalls.
  • Unfortunately, school libraries are some of the most underfunded classrooms in America and only 60 percent of our school libraries have a full-time, state-licensed school librarian on staff.

ESEA Reauthorization Recommendations to Support School Libraries

ALA believes that taking action to fund school library programs with state-licensed school librarians is imperative. Research and experience points out that doing so leads to improved results for students, long-term gains in school and school system capacity, and increased productivity and effectiveness. In order for states to articulate an innovative, comprehensive, coordinated commitment to reform, they must invest in school library programs headed by state-licensed school librarians. 

Accordingly, ALA asks that Congress include the following recommendations in the reauthorization of ESEA:

  1. Maintain dedicated funding for the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program.  Despite its success in improving academic achievement, the FY 2011 budget request for the Department of Education consolidates and eliminates dedicated funding for the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program.  The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program improves the literacy skills and academic achievement of students by providing them with increased access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school library media centers; and well-trained, professionally certified school librarians.
  2. Include provisions under Title I state and local plans and the Race to the Top Fund to establish a state goal of having a school library staffed by a state-licensed school librarian in each public school (validated through accountability performance measures that include baseline data and annual reporting on progress made on such data).  As part of the Race to the Top program, States are required to establish baseline data and report on various performance measures (such as state progress on the distribution of effective teachers).  Similar performance measures should be added to Title I state and local plans and the Race to the Top Fund with regard to school libraries staffed by state-licensed school librarians.  
  3. Allow state and local professional development funds to be used for recruiting and training school librarians.  Currently, school librarians are not active participants in various professional development programs (such as the Teacher and Principal Training and Recruiting Fund and the Enhancing Education Through Technology Fund) even though they are a critical tool used to improve student academic achievement.  ESEA should encourage participation of librarians in such programs.







Questions about the future directions of ALA

I have been itching to ask the questions below as I work on my campaign platform.  I'm a good listener and will appreciate responses from everyone who will take the time to answer, member or non-member.

ALA, as part of its environmental scan for the next strategic plan, has been conducting member forums at every state conference and some of you may have taken part in them. The ideas that are being reported on ALA Connect show caring, thoughtful, forward-thinking responses.  I know that attendance has been low at most of the forums because they are always competing with other great programs but there are proposals that really can drive the work of ALA.  Thus, I would like to ask for participation from you in my campaign by answering questions that are similar to those that ALA has been asking. Feel free to answer all or some of them, either as blog comments or in an e-mail to me at <>.

1. What are the most important issues facing ALA today? Libraries? Our profession? How can ALA help solve those issues?

2. How can ALA strategically remain relevant in the future, including increasing membership and involvement, furthering the mission of the organization, and providing value to the profession?

3. Midwinter is next month. What brings members and others to Midwinter and Annual conferences? How do you see ALA changing traditional conference attendance in the future?

And, other thoughts and concerns are welcome. Thanks!