Library Development and Legislative Committee

Oregon's School Libraries and the Every Student Succeeds Act

December 2016, Updated January 2017

The number of teacher librarians in Oregon's schools have been declining for years.  Recently, there has been a slight uptick, but we have a long ways to go to get teacher librarians in every school.  Why is this important?  Evidence based research shows that student achievement increases when their school has a strong school library program.  

The ESSA, passed in December 2015, requires every state to develop an implementation plan that must be approved by the U.S. Department of Education before receiving federal funding.  For the first time in many years, federal education funding law includes language about school libraries.  In the fall of 2016, a small task force of OLA members including representation from OASL, ACRL-Oregon, the OLA Executive Board and the Library Development and Legislation Committee, worked with the State Library and John Chrastka (EveryLibrary) to develop a set of recommendations.  These provide a framework for working with Oregon Department of Education and school districts to improve Oregon's school libraries. Here is the letter sent to the Deputy Superintendent of ODE in November 2016. 

For more background on the ESSA and Oregon, check out this article in OASL's Interchange.

Over the next few months, we encourage all in the library community to use these talking points with local school boards, superintendents and parents.  Here's what you can do to help support school libraries.

1)  Talk to your school librarian and offer support for the upcoming budget cycle.

2)  Take the survey that ODE is using for feedback on Oregon's draft ESSA Plan.  It is estimated to take about 15 minutes to complete, after reading the framework, of course. The survey is a mix of closed and open-ended questions.  We developed suggested recommendations for some of the questions. The survey is open until January 16th.

3)  Attend one of the ODE community forums. These are being conducted to get additional input on how to best respond to the new federal education funding law, ESSA.  We’ve had great participation from OASL members at the first two (Medford and Hillsboro).  Here are some tips for participating effectively in these forums. 

  • Any messaging about school libraries should be at a high level and relate directly to the ESSA plan. In other words, this is different than simply advocating for hiring school librarians, something that will likely be more effective at the local (district) level.
  • Read the letter that OLA/OASL/ACRL-Oregon sent to Dr. Noor at ODE.  It contains high level concepts and recommendations.
  • Bring a team by coordinating others in your district or region as this will help amplify your message.  And if you can bring students, parents, or community members to speak up for school libraries, or anything else that shows support from your community, that can make your impact even more powerful.
  • Sit together.  These sessions are often done in a setting with tables and ODE uses 15 minutes of 'table talk' as part of the process.  If your table is focused on school libraries, you can coordinate your report out on this topic.
  • ODE also uses a 'discussion note-taking sheet' which will be collected and compiled with these three questions, to which we all wrote school library talking points (Hint: the OLA/OASL/ACRL letter has some great talking points for you to use!)  Here are the discussion points:
    • What local resources are needed to carry out this plan?
    • What state resources and supports are needed to carry out this plan?
    • These components are a start to improving education in Oregon.  What are we missing?

January 3, 2017 4:30 PM

Jordan Valley High School

501 Bassett Street

Jordan Valley, OR 97910

January 18, 2017 6:30 PM

Washington Elementary School

1205 SE Beyers Ave.

Pendleton, OR


January 4, 2017 6:00 PM

Baker High School

2500 E. Street

Baker City, OR 97814 


January 23, 2017 6:30 PM

Woodburn High School

1785 North Front Street

Woodburn, OR 97071


January 5, 2017 6:00 PM

Four Rivers Cultural Center

676 SW 5th Avenue

Ontario, OR 97914


January 24, 2017 6:30 PM

High Desert Education Service District

2804 SW 6th Street

Redmond, OR 97756



Need more information?

Jennifer Maurer, School Library Consultant
Janet Webster, co-chair OLA Library Development & Legislation Committee