Webinar: Seen But Not Read: Advocating for (School) Libraries

On Thursday, July 16, 2020, Jen Park, Matthew Park, Dawn Zeig presented Seen But Not Read: Advocating for (School) Libraries online via Zoom. Please see below for a recording of the presentation, description and a link to the slides.

In September 2018, the Mahwah Public School System implemented a new book checkout schedule for students. The targeted population -- elementary school students -- were no longer allowed to check books out each week during their designated library visit. Instead, they were limited to checking books out every two or three weeks depending on the grade. In learning about this decision, parents (some of whom were librarians outside the district) questioned the reasoning behind it and approached the elementary school administration and the Board of Education. After months of strategic planning alongside many parents and advocates, questioning, and making the issue known throughout the tri-state area by way of media, the checkout schedule was amended with additional benefits added.

This presentation will provide specific insight into the how's and why's of advocating for the school library system as well as advocacy for libraries in general. Participants will learn the timeline of events and gain insight into when it is appropriate to involve town parents, how to gain community involvement, professional library organizations, and the media. Participants will receive examples of Op Ed pieces as well as instructions on how to engage with a Board of Education. Participants will become further aware that advocacy extends beyond their own institution-type (academic, public, school) and that as a team we can support information literacy on a larger scale.

Presenter bios:
Jen Park is the Community Engagement & Talent Development Specialist at Ramapo Catskill Library System where she works with the greater community and libraries to support initiatives as well as develop and implement new ideas and programs. Her focus on advocacy began when attending NYLA's Advocacy Day in 2018 as an academic librarian advocating on behalf of Southeastern and libraries in New York.

Matthew Park received his PhD in African History from Michigan State University. He is currently an Assistant Professor of African History and Global Social Sciences at Bard High School Early College, Newark where he teaches high school and college courses in African History, Literature, and Film, World History, and Seminar. He is passionate about equity among students and continuously advocates for his students in his daily work.

Dawn Zeig is Library Media Specialist at Malcolm S. Mackay School in Tenafly, NJ. She received her B.A. in English Literature from William Paterson University and her MLS from Queens College. She’s passionate about integrating books and technology into her students’ social and emotional learning. She was selected as an ALA Emerging Leader by the NJ Association of School Librarians in 2008. She is a former two-time chair of the Garden State Children’s Book Awards Committee and has served on ALA committees in the past. She also works part time at the Mahwah Public Library as an Adult Reference Librarian. When she’s not reading the latest middle-grade fiction, you can find her hanging out with her husband and two sons.

Download the presentation slides here: