Letters for Libraries Week--Advocate for your students!

Funding for school libraries and funding for other student literacy programs (like the National Writing Project) is being threatened both federally and in states across the country. In the 21st century information environment, our students deserve and need your help in keeping their library/information literacy programs strong. Students need your help in preserving the Improving Literacy for School Libraries grant which is being absorbed into other funding.

What you can do:

Join us for a National Week of Letter Writing February 22-26

Commit to writing 3 emails or letters to Congress, the Department of Education, or your state legislature regarding library and other literacy funding this week.

There are links and information below to help you.

Write your congressman:
Write your Representative
Write your Senator
Write your State legislator

Write the Dept. of Education

Use this Sample Letter or tell your own story--how your libraries have impacted your school and the crucial need for funding for school libraries. (See more background information below)

Once you've written it, add yourself to our map if you like.

A summary of the problem:

In the 2011 Federal Budget, the Improving Literacy for School Librariesgrant will no longer be available. The FY 2011 budget absorbs this grant program, along with a variety of others, into Effective Teaching and Learning for a Complete Education, an umbrella which does not specifically name or require the inclusion of libraries.

AASL statement on budget
(Joyce Valenza) Background information
(Buffy Hamilton) More backgroundand letter explaining issue
Other library cuts needing attention

What will be lost without the Improving Literacy grants:

See the list of the 543 libraries the "Improving Literacy" grants have helped http://www2.ed.gov/programs/lsl/awards.html

  • Kuspuk School District in Aniak, Alaska serving students in 8 rural areas is using the grants to hire a full time certified librarian
  • Blytheville School District in Blytheville, Arkansas is using the grants to help students in rural steel-mill communities by adding library staff and adding online resources for over 900 students.
  • Langston Hughes Academy Charter in New Orleans, Lousiana is using the grant to hire a full-time librarian and build a centralized computer lab area for students
  • Copenhagen School District in Copenhagen, New York is using the grant to provide internet access for a rural community with limited internet resources and create a "Library without Limits."
  • Galveston ISD in Galveston, TX is using the grant to restore hurricane damaged libraries and upgrade library collections
  • Lakeland R-III School District in Deepwater, Missouri is using the grant to bring technology to their rural students including providing multiple laptops for each library, adding a computer lab and whiteboard technology, and adding both a librarian and library assistants to the staff of each school.

Many of the other grants ask for the ability to provide longer library hours, summer hours, parental use of libraries, family literacy events, professional development on collaboration for librarians, and addition of books or technology for libraries in rural areas or impoverished areas. Many of the libraries lack computers completely, or have outdated, poor quality equipment, and books are outdated. Several of the grants revolve around special literacy and reading programs implemented in districts to raise student achievement scores and literacy.

According to the Department of Education these programs have been successful in improving student achievement:

"In January 2009, the Department of Education released the Second Evaluation of the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Program, which indicated that students attending schools participating in this program are performing higher on state reading tests than students in schools that do not take part in the program. Additionally, the study stated that in schools that participated in the program in 2003-04, the percentage of students who met or exceeded the proficiency requirements on state reading assessments increased by an extra 2.7 percentage points over the increase observed among nonparticipating schools during the same time period."