DATE: March 12, 2013
MBLC Endorses School Library Legislation
School libraries in Massachusetts fall under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The DESE has no standards in place for school library programs, nor is there any individual at the DESE charged with overseeing school library programs. Consequently, library programs vary greatly from one community to another, and often even within the same community. Almost half of Massachusetts’ schools lack a full-time librarian, even though studies demonstrate that a full-time librarian clearly increases student achievement.
Representative Sean Garballey of Arlington has worked with the Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA) to develop House Bill 2993 that addresses the need for more equitable school library services and creates a Special Commission on School Library Services in the Commonwealth. At its March 7, 2013 monthly board meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) voted to endorse the legislation and include it in its FY2014 Legislative Agenda.
This vote followed a presentation at the February meeting by MSLA Executive Director Kathy Lowe who illustrated the need for such legislation and answered questions from Commissioners. “While the MBLC is not our regulatory authority, support from the Commissioners is essential in moving this legislation forward and helps pave the way for better, more equitable school library services for all the Commonwealth’s students,” said Ms. Lowe.
The Special Commission on School Library Services, established by House Bill 2993, will assess the current state of school library programs in Massachusetts, develop state standards for school library programs, staffing and instruction and will develop a long range plan to implement school library programs equitably in all schools in the Commonwealth. The legislation authorizes the special commission to work through December 31, 2014 and receive administrative support from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
More information is available on the MBLC’s FY2014 Legislative Agenda.
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.