by Debbie Hall
Here is an example of an email contacting new board members and giving them information about the school libraries across the district or your own school. Most school board members don’t have an education background and need to be informed about school libraries. Send “your board representative” news from your library or invite them to stop by. Tell them a story. Let’s educate the Board of Education.
This email was sent to our four recently elected board members on Feb 4, 2020. We also sent an attachment which you can find in this link. The School Librarian's Role in Reading is an updated, released this week, AASL position paper.
An excerpt of this email was also sent to the five school board incumbents.
We are contacting you to welcome you to the school board of the Houston Independent School District. We know that you are committed to doing your best to increase student success and provide needed services to the young people of our district. Please know that you have support in the community for your work.
Student success and increasing needed services are part of our mission as well. During your campaign our community group, Students Need Libraries in Houston ISD, contacted you to provide information relating to the state of school libraries in HISD. You may have seen the article by Jacob Carpenter in the Houston Chronicle (November 18, 2019) which described the issue of low circulation in libraries in many of the district’s schools. Here is a link to that article in case you missed it:
Mr. Carpenter’s article speaks the truth about the state of HISD’s school libraries. Circulation of materials is not up to standard because the district has failed to realize the importance of school libraries and has permitted school libraries to founder. It is not surprising that lower reading scores across the district have occurred in tandem with a lack of support for school libraries by the central administration. Principals may choose to close their library or understaff their library at their discretion. The lack of library services is an equity issue when some schools have these services and others do not. Currently, there are over 55 schools with closed or vacant libraries in HISD. Aldine, Alief, Fort Bend, and Spring Branch currently staff all of their schools with certified librarians and have no service or equity issues.
For further information about libraries in the district as a whole or in your area, please contact Kallie Benes who is the library manager for HISD’s Library Services. I am sure she would be eager to provide you with up-to-date information. We would also encourage you to look at our library advocacy website at https://www.studentsneedlibrariesinhisd.org/
Libraries must provide materials on many reading levels and materials that appeal to the broad interests of students who want great stories and have a hunger to learn more about the world they inhabit. School libraries staffed by certified librarians and with a sufficient budget to provide collections that can satisfy the curiosity of young minds. I am attaching a recent document from the American Association of School Librarians which outlines the librarian’s role in the reading program. Please consider using your influence to restore the school libraries our students need now.
We provide information for all who seek to improve access to school libraries through our website. We collaborate and work with other groups who support public schools. Please contact us if we can provide additional information or support. We encourage you to visit the school library when you are on campuses and evaluate what is offered for yourself.
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.