Advocate for Libraries in DC or at Home

Librarians know more than anyone how important it is right now for our profession and our advocates to speak up for libraries — to rally our communities behind our libraries and to encourage our elected officials to support funding and policies for libraries. Next Tuesday, June 29, the ALA Washington Office is sponsoring Library Advocacy Day on the Hill, beginning with a rally at 11 a.m. Eastern to which the public — and you — are invited.

If you’re attending ALA Annual Conference or live near DC: Join YALSA at the rally, wear read, and bring your teens and any other library advocates you k now! We would love to have your support. The more people we can bring to Library Advocacy Day, the more impact we have on legislators, letting them know that librarians are a force to be reckoned with.’  For more information on the rally, see the Library Advocacy Day website at www.ala.org/lad and YALSA’s information on participating in the rally.

Unable to attend: Of course, not everyone can make it to the rally in DC on Tuesday. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be part of Library Advocacy Day! We’re also hosting Virtual Library Advocacy Day.’  Show your support for libraries the week of June 28-July 2 by participating in Virtual Library Advocacy Week. A simple phone call or e-mail is all it takes.’  To send an e-mail, go to Capwiz and click on the issue you are interested in.’  The website will take you to a sample form letter.’  Customize it with stories on what your local library is doing to help people look for jobs or gain digital literacy skills as well as other programs. These examples truly matter to your elected officials. Looking for more tools for advocacy? See YALSA’s Advocacy Wiki and our District Days page. Learn more about how to participate in Virtual Library Advocacy Day!

In both cases, feel free to post to Twitter about what you’ve done and use the hashtag #LAD2010.

Thank you for all you do for teens and libraries in your community. Your voice, along with over a thousand advocates rallying on Capitol Hill on the 29th, will raise awareness about the important work that libraries and librarians do on a daily basis to help kids learn to read, help people find jobs, and so much more.

Senate education committee wants librarians’ feedback

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is seeking input from the educational community’s key stakeholders including parents, teachers, librarians, students & administrators on needed changes to the current federal education law, feedback on the Obama Administration’s “Blueprint for Reform” and any other education related ideas stakeholders may want to share. HELP is a bipartisan committee that has started the process of reauthorizing the federal education bill, known as Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ‘ The “Blueprint for Reform” can be accessed at

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/blueprint/blueprint.pdf

Individuals are invited to submit comments until Friday, May 7th by sending them to ESEAcomments@help.senate.gov. This is a key opportunity to let elected officials know about the essential role that school librarians and school libraries play in student achievement.’  Please take a few minutes to email your comments to the Senate committee and encourage library supporters to do the same.

For help with developing your comments, you may want to read the testimony of Jaime Greene, a school librarian who testified before the HELP Committee earlier today: http://tinyurl.com/34xahs2 .’  Other good resources with information about the important role school libraries play is www.ala.org/additup and AASL’s advocacy page on their web site: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aaslissues/advocacy/advocacy.cfm

One important issue to include in your comments is to let the Committee know how important the highly rated Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program is. ‘ In his FY2011 budget request, President Obama consolidated Improving Literacy Through School Libraries with five other literacy programs. This would mean that the only federal funding specifically earmarked for school libraries would disappear.’  Instead, school libraries will have to directly compete with dissimilar programs to receive federal dollars under the President’s plan.’  However, Congress is drafting their own budget for FY2011 right now, and there is no word yet if they will go along with President Obama’s recommendation of consolidation.’  Hearing from you could help save the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program.

Please pass this item on to friends, colleagues, etc. and encourage them to send their comments to the HELP Committee.’  Thanks for all that you do to ensure young people have access to excellent library staff and resources!

Library Legislative Day

Yesterday I was in Washington, D.C. with hundreds of other librarians for National Library Legislative Day.’  It was inspiring to see so many people come out for this event (I saw some familiar YALSA faces there with their state delegations.)’  As it was my first time at this event I was a bit unsure what to expect.’  Since we talk a lot about a barrier to advocacy being lack of confidence, I thought you might like to know a bit about what it was like. Continue reading

ALA Town Hall Discussion-School Librarians Speak Out

I briefly attended the ALA town hall discussion where topics of concern were brought up by ALA members and will be passed on to the Barack Obama Administration.’  ALA President Jim Rettig, the Chair of the Legislation Committee, and representatives from the ALA Washington Office staff were there. According to the wiki about the discussion, there were about 259 ALA members and 45 that took to the mics.’  Having qualified librarians in school libraries was a frequently raised issue.

Continue reading

Social networking legislation in MS

There’s a new bill that has been introduced in the Mississippi Senate that would affect teens’ use of social networking sites. The text of the proposed law would require owners of social networking sites to:

  • obtain written permission from parents or guardians of users under age 16,
  • give parents access to profile pages at all times,
  • “adopt and implement procedures to utilize independently obtainable information to confirm the accuracy of personal identification information collected from members and the parents or guardians”

So if I want to let my teenager have a MySpace, I would have to agree to let MySpace verify her information, and my own, through a third party? Hmmm …

Interestingly, blogs, photo sharing sites, email, instant messaging, chat rooms, and commerical sites are not included in the bill.

Violation of the proposed law would be a felony, with up to 2 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. This bill definitely bears close watching. If any Mississippi librarians are reading the blog, it would be interesting to know how they and the teens in their state are reacting to this legislation.

~Maureen Ambrosino, YALSA Legislation Committee

The YALSA Update: Valentines & Deadlines

Tell Your Librarian You Love Them

This Valentine’s Day, have your teens, parents, children and library supporters flood federal elected officials’ district offices with Valentines that express love for your library and its staff and ask for support for important legislation.

The ALA Youth Divisions – AASL, ALSC and YALSA – are sending out a call to action to library workers to have teens, children, parents and library supporters in their community send “I Love My Teen Services Librarian” or “I Love My School Librarian” Valentine cards to their U.S. Senators and Representatives, and to ask their elected officials to co-sponsor the SKILLS Act &/or support LSTA funding for libraries.

Learn more on how to participate at the I Love My Librarian Campaign Wiki.

Great Stories Club Applications Due Next Week!
Apply by February 15 for a Great Stories Club program grant!

The Great Stories CLUB (Connecting Libraries, Underserved teens, and Books) is organized by the American Library Association Public Programs Office (PPO), in cooperation with YALSA. Major funding for the Great Stories CLUB has been provided by Oprah’s Angel Network.

Connect with hard-to-reach, underserved teens by conducting a Great Stories Club reading and discussion program in your library. All libraries located within or working in partnership with facilities serving troubled teens are eligible to apply.

For a list of the titles included, guidelines and the online application, visit www.ala.org/greatstories. You may also wish to review the Great Stories Club Resource Guide posted on this site as you plan your library’s application.

With questions, please contact the ALA Public Programs Office, publicprograms@ala.org.

Be A 2008-2009 Spectrum Scholar!
Starting in fiscal year 2008, YALSA will support one Spectrum Scholar! Applications for 2008-2009 scholars are due at ALA by March 1. To learn more about requirements and how to apply, visit the Spectrum Web site!

Established in 1997, the Spectrum Scholarship Program is ALA’s national diversity and recruitment effort designed to address the specific issue of under-representation of critically needed ethnic librarians within the profession while serving as a model for ways to bring attention to larger diversity issues in the future.

Want to Get Involved? Join a YALSA Process Committee!
President Elect Sarah Cornish Debraski will begin appointing process committees (such as Teen Read Week, Intellectual Freedom, YA Galley and 25 others) and award juries (such as the BWI/YALSA Collection Development Grant and six others) this spring. So if you want to get involved, make sure to fill out a Committee Volunteer Form and submit it to the YALSA Office by March 1.

To learn more about YALSA committees, juries, and task forces, check out the committee descriptions or reread a few helpful blog posts about this very topic.

Early Registration & Housing for Annual
Annual Conference is just four months away! Make your plans to join us in Anaheim. Registration and housing for ALA Annual Conference 2008 is now open; for the best pricing, register by March 7.

What does YALSA have planned for Annual? Plenty! We’ll offer two preconferences—Got Tweens? Serving Younger Teens and Tweens and Turn Teens on to Reading through Booktalks—as well as the Edwards Award Luncheon, the Printz Awards Reception, and the Young Adult Authors Coffee Clatch. Find out about our special events at the Special Events page at ALA’s Annual Conference Web site.

Save the Date for the First Young Adult Literature Symposium
YALSA’s first biennial Young Adult Literature Symposium, How We Read Now, will be Nov. 7-9 in Nashville! Details on registration and more will be posted later, but you can find out the program slate now (and see the papers to be presented) by visiting the Young Adult Literature Symposium Web site.

Letter to Congress

I tried to reply to Linda’s post, but my comment was “invalid!” so here it is:

OMG.

I didn’t check my email all day. See, bad things happen when you are offline!

I did compose a note to my Congressman, in the hopes he and his aides read their email in the AM.

Dear Congressman,

I am writing to implore you to vote AGAINST the Deleting Online Predators Act as it is currently written. The Internet today is a interactive and dynamic one, where ANY website that allows you to sign in and interact with other users is a social software website including online department stores like Amazon.com, WebCT (used for online courses), news sites like Digg.com and Instant Messaging services used by over 75% of teens! An educational exception can be applied to each and EVERY use of blogs, wikis, and social software – I learn something new every time I log on to a social software website, where I read, discuss, analyze, create, think critically, search, hypothesize, and prove. I cannot echo Beth Yoke, Executive Director of YALSA, enough: EDUCATION, NOT LAWS BLOCKING ACCESS, IS THE KEY TO SAFE USE OF THE INTERNET.

By largest concern is for students themselves. According to the Search Institute (url), there are forty developmental assets that teens need to grow up into healthy, contributing members of our society. Things like support in the form of adult mentors who are not blood relatives (i.e. an aspiring teen writer talking to an author in an online chat or via MySpace), clear boundaries (i.e. by following rules set by individual libraries and communities), being viewed as resources (i.e. valued for their fan fiction and web building and video game modding) and socialization (i.e. journalling, sharing photos, and creating films), to name a few. Access to these asset-building social softwares are KEY to teens emotional and psychological and physical and spiritual growth! How would banning collaborative web applications stunt that growth?

My next concern is that librarians, who are on the forefront of this Internet safety issue (and ethical use of the Internet, I might add!) were NOT included in the committee, although this legislation affects those that get E-rates. Why were no librarians included, when such legislation would have such a major impact? We are working so hard to DECREASE the digital divide by provided access to those who cannot get it at home – people in impoverished areas of the country, often people who are minorities.

My final concern is that this piece of legislation takes power AWAY from parents, and I simply do not believe it is the job of the government to be a parenting institution.

Although I understand schools act in loco parentis, and that students may be distracted at school by games, instant messaging, blogging, etc, drill and practice is boring for kids who have grown up playing video games. They need a sense of engagement to think more deeply. Perhaps, assignments should integrate social software web applications to meet the needs of today’s students. It’s a whole new literacy out there! Let’s prepare kids for it – not censor it.

Kind regards,

Beth Gallaway, MLS
Library trainer/consultant
Hampton NH