I am a card-carrying collaborator but before Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage (Libraries Unlimited 2021) the professional books I’ve authored have been solo projects. Working with 17! co-contributors to Core Values has been a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience for me and now we all get to share in the celebration.
After an 18-month journey, our book is published and available for purchase from ABC-CLIO!
When proposing this book, I suggested four core values for school librarianship: equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom. From my perspective, this is an interdependent set of values and a combination of values that are unique to school librarians. While some of our non-school librarian colleagues may share two or more of these values, I proposed that school librarians have the commitment and responsibility to ensure all four of these values are fully accessible and functioning in our spheres of influence.
Indeed, we share other values with our classroom teacher and administrator colleagues such as literacy and education as a path to lifelong learning, innovation, and collaboration. Yet, these four—equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom—are the foundation on which school librarian leadership is built.
As the editor of the book, I had the honor and responsibility of securing an approved book proposal and then soliciting contributors for specific chapters. I am so pleased that the chapter co-authors said “yes!” They remained committed to this work through one of the most difficult years any of us has experienced in our professional and in our personal lives. I am grateful for their perseverance and dedication to our book.
Infusing our profession with voices of our present and future generation of school librarian leaders was one of my goals for this book. (The co-authors are not of my generation of school librarianship!) They are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender identity. The contributors, including those who offered vignettes of practice found in each chapter, live and work in various parts of the country, serve in urban, rural, and suburban schools and in libraries at all three instructional levels. Our hope is that all Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage readers will find themselves and their work reflected in this book.
I wrote the introduction to the book (and the final chapter as well). In the intro, I share my passion for school librarianship and my inspiration and motivation for proposing this project to our initial acquisitions editor Sharon Coatney at ABC-CLIO.
The introduction begins with a one-sentence theme that summarizes the message I hope we clearly convey throughout the book.
Introduction: A Passion for School Librarianship
All school librarians need a firm foundation to provide strength and direction during these rapidly changing and challenging times.
Based on my experience and thirty years of involvement, I can honestly say that our core values are what initially fueled the fire of my passion for school librarianship, have kept me going in times of trouble, and have—without fail—reaffirmed and reignited my commitment to the profession. I believe that our values are the firm foundation we can rely on during times of change and challenge. As a practicing school librarian and as a school librarian educator, I have met many courageous school librarians who have stepped up to ensure that our core values were accessible to all of our library users when others might have shrunk from that responsibility.
Core Values Chapters: First Four Chapters and Contributors
In the first four chapters of the book, the contributors share their understandings of, passion for, and commitment to four core values: equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom. The co-authors frame their chapters with one-sentence themes that convey the overarching meaning of each value. They also share how they and their colleagues have enacted these values in their practice of school librarianship.
Chapter 1: Equity
Equitable access is a matter of social justice.
Erika Long and Suzanne Sherman
Chapter 2: Diversity
Diversity in resources and programming is not optional.
Julie Stivers, Stephanie Powell, and Nancy Jo Lambert
Chapter 3: Inclusion
Inclusion means welcoming and affirming the voices of all library stakeholders in a way that shares power.
Meg Boisseau Allison and Peter Patrick Langella
Chapter 4: Intellectual Freedom
Intellectual freedom, including access and choices, privacy and confidentiality, is the right of all library stakeholders.
Suzanne Sannwald and Dan McDowell
Courage Chapters: Chapters 5-8 and Contributors
The co-authors of the courage chapters share how they have enacted the four values in specific contexts: professional relationships, principal-school librarian partnerships, and through specific behaviors—leadership and advocacy. Their one-sentence themes convey connections to the application of our core values in practice.
Chapter 5: Relationships
Relationships are the root of a strong community.
Jennifer Sturge with Stacy Allen and Sandy Walker
Chapter 6: Principal-School Librarian Partnerships
Principals are our most important allies.
M.E. Shenefiel and Kelly Gustafson
Chapter 7: Leadership
Leadership requires confidence and vulnerability.
Pam Harland and Anita Cellucci
Chapter 8: Advocacy
Advocacy involves effective communication and building partnerships.
Kristin Fraga Sierra and TuesD Chambers
I had the gift of contributing the final chapter to the book. Advocating for collaboration through instructional partnerships is the hill on which I will make my final stand in school librarianship and K-12 education. The four core values must be enacted throughout the learning community if school librarians are to achieve our capacity to lead and positively influence every student’s learning. Collaborating with others is the way to co-create the learning environment in which students and the adults who serve them can thrive.
Chapter 9: Collaboration
Collaboration is THE key to co-creating a values-centered culture of deeper learning.
All chapters in the book include two vignettes that spotlight core values and behaviors in action. The co-authors have also included quotes that have inspired them from a wide variety of scholars, practitioners, and writers. Each chapter concludes with questions for reflection.
The contributors and I are enthusiastic about sharing our work. We will provide many opportunities for you to engage in conversation with us around these core values and their implication for practice beginning at ALA Annual where the co-authors of the first four chapters will offer an on-demand video session #SLCoreValues #alaac21:
“Taking Action for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Intellectual Freedom in School Libraries”
We invite you to join us in promoting and enacting the unique contributions of school librarians to our learning communities!
And, of course, we hope you will read our book, discuss, and share the ideas and examples of practice with colleagues in your PLNs.
Moreillon, Judi. Ed. 2021. Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.