Help Make Change and What It Should Look Like: Teacher Librarian Speaks Up
“California schools are at the very bottom of the bottom in terms of school library service,” wrote Connie Williams, a member of the Teacher Librarian Program Advisory Committee at the San José State University School of Library and Information Science (SJSU SLIS) and teacher librarian. Disturbed by the disappearance of school librarians from K–12 schools, she decided it was time to take action and go talk to people.
Williams’ recent article in the ALA newsletter District Dispatch, advocates for making change by contacting your legislators. While there never seems to be a good time to visit legislators, Williams has learned that it is well worth the time and energy. “The more of us that do it, the more effective we are. Legislators listen. But they’ll listen more to 500 of us than to one of us,” she wrote. “Three phone calls later, I had three appointments with my legislators.”
Williams details her visits with Congressman Jared Huffman’s aide, Senator Boxer’s field representative, and Senator Feinstein’s assistant field representative in the article, “Change Looks Impossible When You Start.”
She took full advantage of her meetings to point out that school libraries are an important part of quality education, and some serve as venues for after school enrichment programs. This was especially poignant during her meeting with Boxer’s field representative, which resulted in a follow up appointment with Boxer’s Washington D.C. aide.
In an effort to help others to get involved and make change, Williams lists six tips for a successful visit, including bringing visual aids. “My handouts were the center of our discussion,” she wrote. “The AASL infographic and quotes, a parent brochure, and a picture of kids in a library are all good things to start with.”
Williams’ commitment to strong school libraries is of great value to the fully online Teacher Librarian program at the SJSU information school. In her role on the Teacher Librarian Program Advisory Committee, she provides leadership in curriculum development, ensuring the program’s strength in preparing SJSU SLIS graduate students to manage libraries in all levels of K–12 schools.