What are Tennessee librarians saying they want from our legislators?


Written by: Lindsey Anderson

Your to-do list is probably a million miles long, but please consider adding one more item to your list: contact your legislators. Attending TN Library Legislative Day showed me firsthand the power of reaching out to legislators, and it proved to be painless, and even downright fun because it was a joy to spread library love in the offices of the Cordell Hull building in downtown Nashville. Jennifer Sharp, President-Elect of TASL, and I came prepared with books to give away and freshly printed School Library Month bookmarks created by students in Tennessee. We were ready for a day of speaking out on behalf of school libraries. Our mission? To communicate the need for a State Coordinator of School Library Services.  

A survey, modeled after AASL’s School Libraries Count, was sent recently to school librarians in Tennessee. If you took time to respond to the survey, thank you! The information you provided was compiled into an infographic, which shows legislators how school librarians are supporting the future of education in TN, specific ways more funding can help, and what our elected leaders can do to support our school libraries. Meetings with legislators are fifteen minutes or less, so providing them with a visual representation of the data was an effective way to express our key points. The data drove the conversation, and providing this information shows legislators that TASL is actively engaged advocating on behalf of school libraries, and that we as librarians are working together to share strengths, concerns, and what we need to better support our students. We are united and passionate about building strong libraries to support our students.

 TN School Libraries Report 2018

The missing piece for Tennessee school libraries is representation at the state level. How does a State Coordinator of Libraries benefit us? First, a coordinator is our advocate at the state level, communicating the value of school librarians and libraries to state and district leaders. Librarians are leaders in Tennessee! We play an integral part in technology integration in our schools. We are actively sharing our knowledge of current trends and topics with other educators, and we are reaching the majority of our students on a weekly basis. Advocating for us and helping share our impact is vital to the future of school libraries.

A state coordinator can also communicate the importance of funding our libraries and address issues other issues of inequity. Why are some districts funding their libraries and others are leaving libraries to subsist on book fair profits and library fines? Why do some districts ignore the state minimum requirements for staffing libraries? Why are librarians being pulled from the library to cover classes, be building testing coordinators, or do lunch duty? Why do some districts have a district librarian and others do not? A state coordinator will communicate with district leaders and state leaders and make them aware of exemplary school library programs and how strong library programs impact student growth positively.  

School librarians need relevant professional development in order to grow and strengthen library programs. Imagine having professional development tailored to school librarians that addresses specifically how we can support ESSA, state curriculum, and initiatives in TN, such as Read to Be Ready, Drive to 55, and Tennessee Succeeds. Imagine being able to call your advocate at the state level and receive assistance from an expert in our field. This truly is a missing piece in our Department of Education.

Thirty-six states have a State Coordinator of Library Services, and it’s time for Tennessee to raise that number to thirty-seven. Stronger school library programs means greater success for students in Tennessee. If our state leaders want Tennessee to continue to show solid growth, they need to factor school libraries into the equation and do what it takes to properly staff and fund our libraries so that we can impact our school communities in a powerful way. Why do our students deserve any less than the best?

IMG_8560So, how can you help? Contact your legislators and ask them to appoint a State Coordinator of School Library Services to the Tennessee Department of Education. Use online tools like ALA Find Your Elected Officials or  TN Legislature Find My Legislator to know whom to contact. Then, make contact via email, a phone call, or schedule a meeting. It’s important they hear from you, and it’s important that this is brought to their attention repeatedly.  The more, the better. The future of school libraries and school librarians depends on the work we do now!

The future of school libraries and school librarians depends on the work we do now!

Want to act now? Here’s a sample email/ letter you can use:

Dear Representative/ Senator ____________________,

(In your first paragraph, include personal information). Introduce yourself, briefly share your role and your school.

(Share the facts). Research shows that schools with strong school library media programs show greater rates of success. According to a recent survey conducted by the Tennessee Association of School Librarians, the results specifically show that librarians are central to technology integration in their schools, are actively leading professional development, and are seeing the majority of their students on a weekly basis. The survey also shows that 55% feel their library is inadequately funded to meet minimum collection requirements, and 52% of school librarians are being assigned non-library related duties, which take them away from serving students in the library. The results also show that many inadequacies exist across the state and many districts ignore state minimum requirements for staffing libraries.

(State what you’re asking for). I am asking that a State Coordinator of School Library Services be appointed to the Department of Education. The appointment of a state coordinator will help to assure that school library media specialists and their respective districts receive leadership, advocacy, and advisory services pertinent to their needs at the state level. Our libraries need to be properly funded and properly staffed with certified school librarians so that we can best support our students and support education initiatives in Tennessee. Students in Tennessee deserve the best. A State Coordinator of School Library Services will work to give our students exemplary school libraries.


Your Name  


#TASLadvocacy  #futurereadylibrarians  #getreadytotakeaction

  Lindsey Anderson is the Library Media Specialist at Woodland Middle School in Brentwood, TN. She is TASL’s Advocacy Chair and is Vice-President of the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival. She writes about library programming and lesson ideas on her blog, LibraryStile. 

A Welcome & the ALA Midwinter Review: What Changes Will Be Coming Our Way in 2019


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Written by: Blake Hopper, 2018 TASL president

Hello, Tennessee Librarians!  I am so excited for the opportunity to be the very first contributor to our new TASLTalks Blog.  I hope all of you are excited as well. We hope this new tool will help each of you keep up with all the great things happening in our libraries throughout our state.  We would love for you to be a guest blogger!   Please contact Ginger if you are interested.  Speaking of Ginger, we owe her a huge thank you for getting our blog up and running. It will be an invaluable tool in keeping all of you posted on important TASL events, the first of which I’d like to detail below.

Last month your president-elect Jennifer Sharp and I attended ALA Midwinter in the warm and snowy city of Denver.  When we arrived on Friday, it was spring-like weather.  When we woke up on Saturday, we were hit with a snow storm!  Jennifer and I had a fantastic time representing our great state in Denver.   We attended the affiliate assembly on Saturday and Sunday.  You may ask, “What is Affiliate Assembly?”  Affiliate Assembly is a set of meetings for all of the AASL affiliates at ALA conference.  It allows all the states to get together to discuss issues and great things happening in each state’s school libraries.

While attending the meetings we gleaned all the latest on the new AASL standards.  Have you reviewed the new standards yet?  If not, I encourage you to head over to standards.aasl.org and take a look.  I think that you will be pleased with them and all the hard work the AASL Standards Committee put into them. Our own TASL standards committee is currently working to schedule opportunities to introduce and train you in the new standards.  We are going to discuss them at each Spring Roundtable.  We will also have sessions on them at Summer Road Trip and the Annual Fall Conference. You can check social media and the TASL website for the dates and locations for all of these opportunities.  You can also contact your area rep with questions concerning dates.

We also heard the latest on the ESSA plans at Affiliate Assembly.  We are excited that our state has included us in their plan.  I contacted Brinn Obermiller at the state department to ask how we can help get the plan out to Librarians. According to our state department ESSA will help with the following things:

1) Providing students with a well-rounded education (e.g. STEM, arts, civics, IB/AP, health and physical education).

2) Supporting safe and healthy students (e.g. school mental health, drug and violence prevention, training on trauma-informed practices, health and physical education).

3) Supporting the effective use of technology (e.g. professional development, blended learning, technology devices).

School libraries would fall in the first category (well-rounded education), which was where they were mentioned in the ESSA state plan.  Districts receive grant funding and then they decide what programming they will implement. As we were gathering public feedback on the plan, staffing and resources for school libraries was brought up as a need several times. The great thing about this grant is that it is very flexible and districts can use funds for lots of different things, including support for school libraries.They stated that librarians can contact their district’s central offices to start the conversation on how librarians can be involved with the implementation of the ESSA plans.  

I am excited about all of the great things happening in our libraries.  I hope you are too! Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  TASL is here for you!  


Welcome to the New TASL Talks

Librarians, in general, are generous people. We like to share! In that spirit, this library blog is technically free to anyone who finds a good use for it, but it was specifically created for the wonderful school librarians in the state of Tennessee who belong to TASL.

At our first meeting of the 2018 calendar year, your executive board voted unanimously to change the format of our organization’s communication tool, TASL Talks, from that of a quarterly newsletter to a weekly blog post. This was so that TASL events and news can be shared in bite-sized bits that are easier for us to make time to read and to apply in our busy schedules.

Our hope is that the more frequent contact will provide our members with more support and tools needed to be the informed, resourceful, hands-on school library leaders our schools so desperately need us to be.

Specifically, each week we will have a post written by a new person – a TASL member, a leader in the field of Library and Information Science, an author, a Tennessee legislator, any number of people who might have something to contribute to our professional conversation with one another.  Like all blog posts, you will be welcome to have a dialogue about that post in a comment forum.

The TASL Talks editor will coordinate these posts and determine topics and contributors. Please consider if there’s a topic in our field for which you have a great passion or maybe know of someone who might have something valuable to contribute to our professional learning community.  Also consider if there are particular topics on which you would like to learn more. How can TASL Talks better serve you?

Could you take a moment and fill out this form?  It will help your editor to compile a list of potential guest bloggers and future topics. Your participation in the survey should not take more than 5 minutes, so please help us to serve you better by letting us hear from you!

Next week will be our official kick-off where you will hear from your 2018 TASL president Blake Hopper! Until then, happy teaching, reading, and learning!

Your 2018 TASL Talks Editor,

Ginger M. Kirchmyer
DuPont Hadley Middle Prep
Nashville, Tennessee

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