by Judi Paradis and Bob Roth
Co-Chairs, Legislative Committee
The Legislative Committee continues to work on several fronts this year to improve working conditions for school librarians in Massachusetts. Our annual Legislation Day is planned for April 2, 2008 at the State House in Boston. For the first time, we are combining forces with the Massachusetts Library Association. Our hope is that a joint venture will draw attention to the needs of ALL libraries. We will award prizes to the winners of our annual bookmark contest at Legislative Day, and hope that all our members will participate in lobbying for our bill to include school libraries in Chapter 70.
The Committee met with lobbyist Chris Gregory in early January, and took his advice to keep the pressure on the members of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Education to pass bill H564. Chris believes that our constant letters, phone calls and e-mails are having an impact, and he hopes that a push from our members early in 2008 will result in passage of our bill.
Another tactic we are trying this year is to have a constant presence at the regular meetings of the Massachusetts Board of Education. Our Executive Director, Kathy Lowe, presented information about the status of school library programs to the Board in November. We are hoping to have a group of our supporters at each meeting to make the case that Massachusetts needs better standards for our school library programs. Our ultimate goal is to have the Board of Education appoint a person to the Department of Education specifically to oversee school library programs. We would expect this person would create a long-range plan for Massachusetts school libraries that would encompass staffing with professional library teachers and adequate budgets.
Members of the Legislative Committee are also working with area directors and members of the public relations committee to develop an advocacy workshop that our members could use to provide information about the value of school libraries to parents, school administrators, and community members. We continue to expand our e-list of parent supporters. If you have names and email addresses of parents who would be willing to occasionally speak out on behalf of school library programs, please send them to Judi Paradis at
Finally, thank you to the many members who worked to collect data on school library legislation from almost 30 states this year. We continue to solicit information from remaining states, and hope to use the information we collected to shape legislation supporting school libraries in Massachusetts.
The Legislative Committee can always use help—we have many discrete tasks, and many long-term projects. If you would be interested in getting regular emails from our committee chairs to keep you up to date on our efforts, please let us know.