Upon recommendation of Washington State Librarian Rand Simmons, the Office of the Secretary of State supported Senate Bill No. (SB) 6105 at a recent hearing. The bill addresses teacher-librarians and the provision of resources and materials for the operation of school library information and technology programs. It changes the name of “school-library media programs” to the “school library information and technology programs” thus updating the criteria for school library programs bringing them into the 21st Century!
Katie Blinn, Deputy Policy Director for the Office of the Secretary of State, said, “The bill reinforces the idea of libraries providing technology, not just books.” Certainly school libraries have been battered by the budget woes of the past few years. “Too often, it seems, cutting the school library is an easy budget reduction,” said State Librarian Rand Simmons. “But, I believe that teacher-librarians are integral to the education of students and this bill clarifies their role.”
The bill is a request of the Washington Library Media Association (WLMA). Sharyn Merrigan, the teacher-librarian at Marshall Middle School in Olympia and President-Elect of WLMA noted in her testimony before Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education
“Teacher-librarians play a central role in their schools and in the education of students. At WLMA, we have identified the three main responsibilities of the 21st century teacher-librarian. Those responsibilities are:
• Support for information and technology literacy instruction
• Reading advocacy for lifelong learning and enrichment
• Equitable access to information resources and services
As an organization, we have adopted a framework for these three responsibilities, which can be summed up as Library, Information, and Technology, or LIT . . .”
WLMA’s legislative liaison, Sara Glass, teacher-librarian at Tumwater’s Peter G. Schmidt Elementary School supported the new language in SB 6105, by stating, “teacher-librarian in the school library information and technology program … describes how we provide both the vision and the leadership for emerging technologies that can transform student learning and the classroom curriculum.”
By the way, have you noticed the term “school librarian” hasn’t been mentioned? For at least a decade school librarians have adopted the term teacher-librarian because it both clarifies they are certified professional teachers and points to their focus on teaching.
The bill is supported by the Washington Education Association (WEA). Chief Lobbyist Lucinda Young says WEA will introduce a bill that “. . . would provide the funding for school districts to hire enough teacher-librarians for all our schools and return para-educators to full employment.”
SB 6105 was heard in committee of January 22, voted out of committee on January 24, and passed to Rules Committee on January 27. The next step will be a vote of the Senate. WLMA leaders are optimistic that the bill will receive favorable treatment in the House.
Public librarians and teacher-librarians met with legislators on Friday, January 24. The buzz over the reception of legislators to SB 6105 was both electrifying and gratifying.