After weeks of collaborative lobbying by the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) and the Virginia Library Association (VLA), the state senate’s education committee narrowly defeated a bill that would have relaxed requirements for librarians at the middle and high school level. The Virginia House Education Committee defeated Senate Bill 261 in a 12-10 vote on March 5.
The bill would have lessened current regulations that stipulate that “a local school board is required to employ two full-time librarians for any middle school or high school,” creating a loophole where non-librarian staff could be hired in place of librarians.
Audrey Church, president of VAASL and past-president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library Association, testified in opposition to the bill, along with Jim Livingston, president of the Virginia Educational Association. “School librarians play invaluable roles in our schools, and their skill sets are unique, Livingston is quoted as saying in the VEA Daily Reports. “Every middle and high school in Virginia deserves the benefit of having a fully staffed school library.”
This local collaboration mirrored much of the work occurring at the national level, where AASL has been partnering with ALA to provide support and assistance for Virginia. “Through this partnership, VLA and VAASL were able to harness the collective power of our networks to advocate for the students of the Commonwealth of Virginia, said Lisa R. Varga, executive director of the Virginia Library Association.
ALA and AASL provide coordinated, strategic support to states faced with negative legislation, budget cuts and other crises, including consultation, use of targeted social media messaging and advocacy software to reach elected officials.