More than 300 Tennessee librarians, library staff and library supporters have signed a letter to Gov. Bill Lee requesting the inclusion of libraries in his distressed-county discussions.
The letter, sponsored by the Tennessee Library Association, the Tennessee State Library and Archives, the Tennessee School Library Association and the Friends of Tennessee Libraries, highlights the many ways librarians and library workers are “a rich resource for concerning community needs,” including details about public, school and academic libraries to underscore their request.
Here are the letter’s keynote points:
• 18 million people visited a public library in Tennessee last year and librarians helped them find information about employment, education, government benefits, health issues, and laws. In many Tennessee libraries, community members learned emerging technical skills like coding, graphic design and 3D printing while others learned basic computer skills like setting up an email account.
• School libraries are an integral part of providing Tennessee with a stronger education system and a better-prepared workforce and are a trusted place where Tennessee’s youth discover their strengths, passions and future career paths. As such, school librarians have a unique window into the lives of K-12 students and their families and possess a deep understanding of their community-at-large.
• Academic librarians in Tennessee work face-to-face with Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect students. They meet the digital needs of rural students with little connection to the internet and provide crucial information-literacy instruction to help build a workforce of critical and analytical thinkers.
• Libraries of all kinds across Tennessee have been providing STEM education to children and adults. From Makerspaces and science-themed summer reading programs to after-school coding classes and seed libraries, your Tennessee librarians and library workers have years of successful STEM experience and insight to offer.
The letter also informs Gov. Lee of how libraries are an embedded and integral part of their communities with years of experience in helping to raise the quality of life for Tennesseans. The following is an excerpt from the letter.
“Librarians and library staff know their communities in ways others often do not and are a trusted resource for people of all ages. Additionally, our librarians are some of the most civic-minded and community-active Tennesseans — serving on boards and embedded in organizations across many spectrums. This means we often have a reach far beyond our institutions. ... As such, we formally request a seat at the stakeholder’s table as problems are discussed and solutions identified.”
A full copy of the letter, including 332 signatures, can be found at docs.google.com/document/d/1vyPKnOMxcFYbbEE_lSb7El3ure7YWeKbcR0iDh6EAtM/edit?usp=sharing.