SKILLs Act Reinforces Importance of School Libraries, Librarians

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“The school library helps me by having the right information at the right time and they have all of the right tools I need for a project. They have taught me to use my brain with info and think more about it and not just grab anything.”

“When you go to the librarian for help, the librarian gets you to explain in your own words the questions you have to answer in your project. She makes sure you understand what you are going to do and then helps you get into it.”

“On the occasions that I did have questions or needed help, the librarians were always able to aid me much more than I could aid myself, and so I ask for help all of the time.”

Supporters Rally for SKILLS Act

As some 50 librarians attending the American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., looked on, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and Representatives announced the introduction of the Strengthening Kids' Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLs) Act. With cries of "1-2-3, support your li-brar-y!" the enthusiastic crowd welcomed the new legislation, all while standing in front of the Cleveland Public Library's bookmobile, known as the "People's University on Wheels." Speaking at the event were ALA President Leslie Burger, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI). The event took place June 26, 2007 on Capitol Hill.

WATCH THE VIDEO

These are just a few of the thousands and thousands of student responses taken from an Ohio study on the importance of school libraries, and they illustrate just how strongly students feel about their libraries and the librarians who staff them.Raul Grijalva talks on Capitol Hill

Every day, students across the country visit their school libraries (now referred to as school library media centers) for everything from serious research to a little light reading. And they rely on the studied advice of the librarians at hand – similarly referred to as school library media specialists -- to guide them in the right direction. Recently, the U.S. Congress took steps to ensure that students will continue to have this vital resource to their children’s educations: the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLs) Act.

On June 27, this bipartisan legislation was introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, which guarantees that students across America will have the library resources they need to succeed.

Sponsored by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and by Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), the SKILLs Act ensures the presence of highly qualified, state-certified school library media specialists in every school, strengthening a key aspect of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the Improving Literacy through School Libraries program.

The SKILLs Act further ensures that library funds will be available to serve students in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the nation; that appropriate books and materials will be available for students at all grade levels, including those with special learning needs and those learning English as a second language; and that highly qualified school library media specialists will be available to assist and support all students with their learning needs.

Background

The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (LSL) program was designed to improve student literacy skills and academic achievement by providing schools with up-to-date library materials and to ensure that school library media centers are staffed by well-trained and professionally certified school media specialists.

The program is administered by the Department of Education and is the first program specifically aimed at upgrading school libraries since the original school library resources program was established in 1965.

Multiple studies have affirmed that there is a clear link between school library media programs that are staffed by a school library media specialist and student academic achievement. Across the United States, research has shown that students in schools with good school libraries learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized test scores than their peers in schools without libraries.

Long regarded as the cornerstone of the school community, school libraries are no longer just for books. Instead, they have become sophisticated 21st century learning environments offering a full range of print and electronic resources that provide equal learning opportunities to all students, regardless of the socio-economic or education levels of the community – but only when they are staffed by school library media specialists trained to collaborate with teachers and engage students meaningfully with information that matters to them both in the classroom and in the real world.

Why Care About School Libraries?: Research from School Libraries Work!, a study by Scholastic Research & Results

"A multitude of evidence strongly supports the connection between student achievement and the presence of school libraries with qualified school library media specialists."

"Across the United States, research has shown that students in schools with good libraries learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized test scores than their peers in schools iwthout libraries."

"Today's library media specialists are important instructional partners or consultants in supporting and expanding existing curriculum."

"No longer are school libraries just for books, they have become 'school library media centers' with computer resources that enable children to engage meaningfully with a wide variety of information."

"Research has shown that school libraries staffed by qualified library media specialists are needed to have a positive impact on student academic achievement."

 

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