Students Need Libraries (SNL) is based here in Houston, one of the most diverse cities in the world. George Floyd grew up here. His name and life are now a catalyst for so much hurt, protest, and hope – hope that the new waves of activism will result in long overdue systemic change. SNL sees the need to work against racism, the insidious assumptions we have all grown up with no matter our racial heritage. In that effort, SNL today opens a curation of resources to our school librarians, and to our school library stakeholders throughout Houston, in support of improving our understanding and implementation of racial justice. We also hope these resources support our K-12 students to understand and appropriately join activist efforts towards racial justice.
SNL has been working for Equity of Access as long as we have been active, but recent events raise our compulsion to curate these pages. We hope that librarians will refer here for tools to increase community understanding of the issues and their impacts, and to share these resources with their schools. We also hope that stakeholder allies* of school libraries, and even readers who don’t yet understand how to be stakeholder allies, will also find these pages useful because they will stay easy to find even after the dust begins to settle and the access to these resources begins to hide as the media turn to other topics.
These pages published today are just the start. We are working to cull the most appropriate choices for our community of K-12 librarians, teachers, parents and students. Please return often to see what is added as we move towards a more just world.
Currently (June 20, 2020), posted pages include:
Still under construction:
We thank Velda Hunter, librarian at HISD's Yates High School, and friend James Martin, YA author and bookseller, for their support in vetting the links included.
*A Stakeholder Ally is anyone who supports equity of access by all K-12 students in local Houston public and private schools to fully staffed and fully funded school libraries. Librarians, teachers, parents, community members and students are all stakeholders in the goal of strong education for every student, a goal to which school libraries are instrumental contributors. Houston ISD and other school administrators, Houston ISD and other school board members and elected officials in policy- and decision-making positions are also stakeholders. The Houston community is stronger when EVERY K-12 student has strong literacy skills and a love of learning, both of which are fostered by strong school libraries across the districts.
No apple trees mean no books/materials for the students. Some schools have apple trees (libraries) but they are staffed by clerks or in some cases teachers who may not be prepared to effectively help students access the apples (books). Schools that offer non-librarian staffing may have achieved the level of EQUALITY that has a tree, but their students are on the side with no apples and a too short ladder; they are not receiving the same services as libraries staffed by librarians. In the illustration, staffing is represented by a variety of tools (ladders and baskets) to help students get the apples (books).
Schools in high poverty areas that have librarians and libraries are approaching EQUITY but they still need a taller ladder and stronger funding and resources. The librarian can support program offerings, but actual books and other resources require budget support to meet the needs of students.
When HISD figures out how to support fully staffed and fully funded school libraries for every campus, HISD will have begun to offer JUSTICE to all students in the form of equity of access and equality of resources.
All students can benefit from a strong library program. Staffing libraries with librarians helps assure that students will be getting the same educational benefits across the district. JUSTICE is attained when all students have access to the library no matter where they live, that all libraries are staffed with a librarian, and that all libraries have a well-funded collection that represents the needs and interests of the population served (lots of beautiful apples).
Where is the JUSTICE in providing libraries for some but not for all? This is a key question for both Houston ISD administration and its school board.
The artist is Tony Ruth: Maeda, John. "Tony Ruth's Equity Series (2019)." CX Report, 2 June 2020. It took some digging to track the actual artist following the tweet trail backwards, but that's what librarians do!
This blog is primarily authored by Debbie Hall and Dorcas Hand, but guest authors are welcome. If you have an idea to share, please contact our email below. Debbie is a retired HISD librarian and Library Services Specialist. Dorcas is a retired school librarian who remains active in AASL/ALA. Both support increased equity in school library access and support for all HISD students and campuses.