Library community galvanizes around school libraries: more than 25,000 sign White House petition

With a Feb. 4 deadline looming, members of the library community worked to ensure that 25,000 people signed the White House petition on behalf of school libraries. This number is the minimum needed for any petition to reach the president’s desk, through its new “We the People” website at https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/how-why/introduction. The White House staff will review the petition and issue an official response.

The petition states that "every child in America deserves access to an effective school library program. We ask that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provide dedicated funding to help support effective school library programs. Such action will ensure more students have access to the resources and tools that constitute a 21st century learning environment. Reductions in school library programs are creating an ‘access gap’ between schools in wealthier communities versus those where there are high levels of poverty. All students should have an equal opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to learn, to participate, and to compete in today’s world."

It is considered an important first step in ensuring that federal legislation affecting school libraries passes, specifically the SKILLS Act, as well as ensuring that support school libraries are included in the reauthorization of ESEA. "School libraries are everyone’s issue,” said ALA President Molly Raphael.  "Cuts in staffing or elimination of school library programs in a specific community affect all libraries in that community, whether it’s the public library now tasked with serving a school curriculum, or higher education librarians teaching remedial information literacy skills. In order for any of us to succeed, we must be willing to work on these issues together to support our broader library eco-system. Please get involved and help create awareness about the need to ensure that every student has access to an effective school library program."

The petition drive  has gained support from such prominent authors as Neil Gaiman, Brad Meltzer and John Green.
Gaiman’s Twitter feed urges his followers to sign the petition.
Meltzer’s Twitter feed includes the following tweet: "Petition needs 10K more signatures to ensure that every child has access to effective school library programs"
And Green tweeted "Remind the White House how much school libraries matter. Sign now!"

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