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Growing Connections

Published onMar 29, 2024
Growing Connections

I write these words after hearing disturbing news that Evergreen School District in Vancouver, which eliminated secondary Teacher-Librarians last year, plans to eliminate elementary Teacher-Librarians in the 2024-25 school year. The eradication of the library programs that served more than 20,000 students, half of whom are from historically marginalized populations and over a third of whom are economically disadvantaged, is a huge blow to their entire community.  Despite research indicating that access to strong school libraries is the biggest factor in closing the literacy gap for students impacted by poverty, district officials have chosen to utilize funds designated for Teacher-Librarians and library materials in the prototypical funding model,, the tool the Washington State Legislature uses to determine school funding, for other things.

I don’t mean to imply the other things Evergreen School District will use those funds for aren’t important. School boards across Washington are forced to make difficult decisions every day since the legislature “fixed” school funding following the McCleary case. Sadly, they are far from the first to eliminate or reduce student access to qualified Teacher-Librarians in an attempt to balance their budgets. Our current rule of local control makes it far too easy to put libraries on the chopping block, and it sometimes feels as if no one cares.

That is why part of my “presidential initiative” is to help library workers grow connections with each other and with those in our communities who understand the value all types of libraries bring to our communities. We must break the silos that exist not only in the library world but also in the world at large if library programs are going to meet the challenges facing us.

Our four WLA divisions—Public, Academic, School, and Special—must be fierce advocates for each other. For that to happen, we have to communicate with each other and truly understand the challenges faced by our colleagues. Constantly advocating for our existence, for the right to read, for funding, for the ideals that libraries represent, and for the patrons who need us is exhausting. It is only through connection with each other that we can refill our buckets and be ready to fight another day. It is only through connection with each other that we develop a network of people who can take turns shouldering the work so that each of us can recharge when needed.  

While we connect with those inside our library “silo,” we must also connect with others. We must break out of our library world to share our amazing programs with those who could be our allies. Present at conferences not targeted at librarians, publish in journals outside the library world, and create connections with non-library organizations. If we advocate only within our library world, we will not withstand the challenges we face.

I show up to do this work because I believe in the power of libraries to transform lives. This is not hyperbole—I see it in my daily work in an elementary school library, and I have felt it in my lifetime as a public library patron. All types of libraries provide important safety nets for our most vulnerable populations and offer equitable access to information, literacy, and programming on a scale not seen in any other type of institution. I am able to sustain this work because of the amazing support system I have been able to create through my involvement with WLA. I know that when I need to step back, there will be someone else willing to take up the fight, and that when they are tired, I will be ready to pick it back up.

I hope that each of you will take the opportunity to become more involved in WLA and to break out of your specific library silo to learn more about the many different types of libraries we represent. As I write this, I am preparing to travel to Spokane next weekend for WLA 2024, and I look forward to expanding my network and connecting with many of you there. Connection isn’t something that happens magically—we each must work to grow our connections with each other and our colleagues. By doing so, we ensure that our work can continue.

If you’d like to connect with me, I invite you to join me for Coffee & Connection via Zoom from 8:30-9:30 a.m. on May 18, July 27, Sept. 21, and Nov. 16. I hope these casual drop-in gatherings for all WLA members will help us grow our connection. If you need to reach me outside those times, please email me.  I look forward to growing my connection with you!

In solidarity,

Sarah Logan, 2024 WLA Board President

[email protected]

Sarah Logan's headshot shows her smiling at the camera with a grey-blue backdrop. She is wearing glasses, and green shirt, and a black sweater, with her shoulder-length dark hair down.
Sarah Logan is the Teacher-Librarian at Dorothy Fox Elementary in Camas, Washington and currently serves as the Washington Library Association Board President. Sarah is a passionate advocate for access to quality school library programs and has been instrumental in the #K12Librarians4AllWA campaign, which seeks to increase the number of Teacher-Librarians in Washington’s K-12 public schools. She will continue to advocate for Washington’s students until they all have access to quality school library programs with qualified Teacher-Librarians.
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