Monday, September 22, 2008

Three Tough Moms Fight for Libraries

Efforts have kicked off in Oregon and Arizona to save school libraries. Other states may soon follow.

It all started with three “Tough Moms”—see them on the September cover of the national magazine, School Library Journal.

As reported before in this blog they started a grassroots effort that succeeded in getting Washington State legislators to commit $4-million in emergency money to school libraries for this year.

But they have only just begun. Stories keep coming in from districts where the school year started with more cutbacks in library programs.

Lisa Layera Brunkan e-mailed supporters: Perhaps the most heart-wrenching story has come from a Central Washington elementary school located on the Yakima Indian Reservation -- the school serves 1200 children, 96% of whom receive free or reduced lunch. In June, the teacher-librarians there purged 2,000 titles from the collection because the copyright was 1979 or prior.

There are no funds to replace these books. One of the librarians reported that, despite contributing $1,000 of her own money last year to purchase materials and prizes for the kids, still the most popular fiction paperbacks are scotch-taped together every 3 months. Many of these books don't make it through the year because the thickness of the
tape renders them unreadable.

The mom’s campaign, Fund Our Future Washington, continues to lobby the State Task Force on Basic Education, inform citizens on the issue and gather signatures. Last week their petition topped ten-thousand signatures.

Check out photos of the latest rally. As authors of children’s literature, we understand the importance of getting good books in the hands of students. Can a school succeed in preparing students for the 21st Century without school libraries? NO.We’re joining this effort and we hope you will, too: take action.

~~Mary Cronk Farrell

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