Friday, July 5, 2013

Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Libraries

So, here's what happened...

First, ALA President Barbara Stripling created this document - a Declaration For The Right To Libraries.  It's a beautiful affirmation of how libraries transform lives and communities, how they change our collective experiences and grow our shared knowledge.

Then, Library Rock Star, (and one of my personal heroes), Doug Johnson, wrote a post outlining his initial thoughts on a Declaration of Students' Rights To School Libraries: a remix of Barbara's work with an emphasis on school libraries. My first thoughts were a) Wow.  Even Doug's rough drafts are made of awesome and b) this would make a cool graphic.

So, I made this.


First things first.  I'm not sure how many times I'll have the opportunity to draw librarians in powdered wigs, so I'm glad I decided to go for it. (Although, I have to admit, those wigs were harder to draw than I thought they'd be!) 

Secondly, I absolutely love the notion of a document outlining why effective and innovative libraries are more than just a luxury - how they are a fundamental part of our education system - as important and necessary as the school itself.

Also, I think this list acts as a good self assessment tool.  If these are the things we say all students have a right to, we have to ask ourselves... are we providing them?  And if not, how can we fix that?

What's more, I think the items on this list are worth fighting for.  If your students don't have access to the things listed in the document above due to budget and/or personnel cuts, it's time to let people know what kids are denied when they are denied access to a school library.  If we think these items represent things that kids have a RIGHT to as learners in our education system, then we have a responsibility to sound the alarm when those rights are infringed upon.  Printing this list and posting it on your office door will do nothing to keep Grim Reaper of Federal Funding from knocking, but... making sure that a) your students really do benefit from the things on this list and b) you educate, inform and advocate when these rights are endangered, will no doubt encourage others to also stand up for students.  

I've said it before and I will say it again:  people, (principals, superintendents, parents, legislators, etc.), fight for the things that they see as a priority.  Do these people know that the mission of your school's library and the focus of your work as a teacher librarian is to provide the items in this declaration?  And if they don't, why not?    To that end, sharing this document, or Doug's original list, or a list of your own, may be a good place to start - but it better come with a list of examples of how these deliverables look in your school and, most importantly, how they impact your students.

Finally, when I wrote to Doug and asked for permission to remix his work (actually, being prone to asking forgiveness rather than permission, I remixed it first then asked for permission to share it) he was quick to point out that these were just his first thoughts and as those thoughts develop, the list too may evolve.... kinda like other great documents, no?  I hope this list does change along with our students' needs, otherwise, what's the point? In the meantime, I think this is a great place to start.  

So... thanks to Doug and Barbara for doing the real work and then letting me add a few doodles.  As with all the other graphics I create, this one is free for you to use and share.  You can access the original image here

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