Iowa School Librarian Requirement Saved

Recently there was an effort in the Iowa General Assembly to remove the requirement that there be at least one librarian and nurse in every school district. This is being done under the ideal of local control. That is something that I also believe in to as an ideal, but there are certain times and places when the state government needs to step in to ensure something happens. There are times when people making the laws for the state may know things (through constituents reaching out) that the local school board isn’t aware of.  For example, study after study proves a student in a school with an active library program and a well supported library achieves more than a student without these things. Another example of this kind is requiring certified teachers which is done on a state level, not a local level. That’s the way to think of this requirement. There are times when the state should step in and I think having a librarian and more so an information literacy program is one of them.
I’ll note here that I worked as a school librarian in two K-12 school districts. However, I’m not employed in one now and I don’t really even know many K-12 librarians any more so this isn’t about me wanting to save anyone’s job. This is about what’s best for the state in creating an educated population.
I’m happy to say the amendment was killed. Below I’m reposting with permission the statement from the Iowa Library Association about this attempt to remove librarians from our schools.
If you want to know more about this instance or about efforts to support libraries and information literacy in schools, or for support for libraries across the board a good place to start is EveryLibrary’s post and then on to the rest of their page.

This from Dan Chibnall, ILA President:

Last evening [Ed. Note: February 28, 2019], the [Iowa General Assembly] Senate Education Committee met to discuss SSB 1190, the bill that contained language striking the requirements for teacher librarians and nurses in Iowa schools. As of last night, that threat no longer exists.

During the committee meeting, Sen. Mark Lofgren proposed an amendment striking the teacher librarian and nurse language from the bill. It passed by voice vote with no opposition. The bill now goes to the full Senate but our teacher librarian colleagues are safe.

Katy Kauffman, the 2019 Iowa Association of School Librarians President, wrote a great email last night to her IASL members and I’m going to borrow a little from that here so you know who was all involved in leading these efforts. The IASL Board, Lisa Beal (IASL Advocacy Chair), Karla Krueger, Joan Taylor, Mike Wright, Zach Stier, Shannon Miller, Cara Stone, Dara Schmidt, and Amanda Vazquez. There were others too, on listservs and social media, in email threads and at the Capitol. Thank you all for your hard work.

I want to give a special shout-out to our incredible lobbyists, Craig Patterson and Amy Campbell. Without them I don’t know where we would be. Thank you so much. Also, another special shout out to EveryLibrary, who came in at the 11th hour to help us in our time of need. If you’re not familiar with them, visit their site and get to know them. Patrick “P.C.” Sweeney and John Chrastka were so helpful with language and for helping us setup on their site to get the emails rolling. They also put together this website telling the story of our victory last night. I recommend you all take a look and share it with others:

I cannot thank all of you enough for your incredible efforts to help make this win a reality. When I ran for ILA President years ago, I talked quite a bit about the importance of communication between librarians, libraries, and our legislators. Last night those communication efforts paid off and I was so impressed by the sheer volume of your voices, telling your stories and sticking together with your colleagues across the state. Bravo to all of you. Let’s keep those voices loud and clear for our Legislative Day on March 13th at the [Iowa] Capitol.

If you have a few minutes today, please consider emailing or calling the senators who helped us last night and thank them for their tireless work and their votes.