Library Journal Q & A - A Preview

Library Journal invited ALA candidates to respond to a number of questions ahead of the election, and they gave us some good ones, e.g., "Are Libraries Neutral?" So, definitely look for the complete Q & A (now published). For now, my response to: "With school librarianship in peril in so many places, what is the role of the public library in preparing kids for college readiness?"

Find the interviews at:


School libraries, public libraries, and academic libraries are all part of an interdependent learning ecosystem for K-12 students; each has a role to play in preparing students for college and for a life of informed citizenship. Too often, I have seen politicians (including those charged with the leadership of public schools) assume that a robust public library can take the place of a school library, and that leads us down a road detrimental to all. Public libraries have a critical role to play in providing services to children and young adults, and this may include providing support for teachers, coordinating homework help programs, and negotiating for access to digital content that K-12 students and teachers (and parents) can make use in support of teaching and learning. It may include the development of technology-enhanced spaces that encourage media content creation by teens, and it may include the delivery of programs and services that help tweens and teens navigate a complex digital environment as they craft the earliest versions of the digital identity. Academic libraries have a critical role to play in terms of community engagement efforts aimed at K-12 students and teachers, especially as secondary schools have moved into greater support for inquiry-based learning, extended research projects, maker spaces, use of social media, “Big Data,” etc. None of these, however, can take the place of a robust school library program with a professional school librarian in place to serve as an expert resource for students, an instructional collaborator with other teachers, and a building leader who can help to facilitate student access to that broader network of support that he or she should find in local public and academic libraries.