The New Jersey Association of School Librarians and EveryLibrary Survey Legislative Candidates
Candidates running for seats in the Primary Election for the New Jersey General Assembly and Senate show overwhelming support for school libraries.
The New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL), with the assistance of EveryLibrary, recently conducted a survey of candidates running for seats in the Primary Election for the New Jersey General Assembly and Senate to gauge their support for school libraries, and the need for students to have access to a state certified school library media specialist. The candidates were also able to share their views and opinions related to school libraries and students’ right to read with access for voluntary inquiry.
The survey included a question about whether candidates would support the legislative bill, NJ S1903, which would require a ratio of school library media specialists to students. We are happy to share that Senators Shirley Turner (LD15) and Patrick Diegnan (LD18) have both signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, joining lead sponsors James Beach (LD6) and Linda Greenstein (LD14). According to Candidate Patrick Diegnan (LD18 Senate): “An informed and educated population is the cornerstone of a democracy. Our libraries are an essential element in the education of our children.”
The survey responses showed overwhelming support for school libraries highlighting the need for students to have access to print and digital resources (e.g.,ebooks and databases) that are selected by professional school librarians. Christine Clarke, candidate for Senate in LD25, stated, “Libraries should have books for every student, and students should have access to a wide variety of reading materials, including materials in which they can 'see themselves.”
Additionally, the majority of respondents felt that school library media specialists were highly qualified to teach and support students and their families in closing the education and learning gaps created by the COVID pandemic. Candidate Eve Robinson (LD27 Assembly) offered the opinion, “I value the opportunity that school library/media centers offer students” Furthermore, most candidates were very supportive of the students’ right to read with school libraries as places for voluntary inquiry.
Quotes from other candidates included:
- Benjie E. Wimberly (LD35 Assembly) “I think this effort (to provide school library resources) is collaborative with teachers, students and the surrounding community.”
- Garnet R Hall (LD28 Assembly) “The certified media specialist staffing ratio is critical if we are to attain information equity and access. Far too many SDA Districts are book and or on-line deserts in terms of computer access, making school libraries and the specialists who manage them invaluable. The recommended staffing numbers will also increase reading scores and help close the achievement gap, as SDA district with the lowest scores are far too often less likely to have librarians and school libraries.”
- Clyde Cook (LD5 Senate):” I believe that libraries are essential for our schools and communities”.
The survey was conducted to support NJASL’s commitment to advancing the value and the need for certified school library media specialists in every school.
Click on Link to view survey questions, the summary of candidate responses as well as written comments of the candidates.
The New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) is the only statewide organization for school librarians in New Jersey. NJASL believes that every student in every New Jersey school deserves to be taught by a State certified full-time School Library Media Specialist supported by a resource-rich school library program. School librarians are essential partners in curriculum delivery and college and career readiness. They are leaders in the integration of technology, information and digital literacies, and the professional development for school staff.