If You Invite a Legislator to the Library…

School Library Media Month takes place each April. We are encouraged to come up with a promotion that shows the significance of our media centers to our school.  This year, my promotion was a spring Hour of Code, a reading challenge (can we get to 4,000 checkouts before the end of the month?), a daily media message over the announcements, AND a visit from our Congressman, the Honorable Jamie Raskin.

Though I’ve advocated for my library and profession on a local level, I had never thought to reach out to a national representative.  Audrey Church’s inspirational message, “If You Invite a Legislator to the Library” encouraged me to reach out to Congressman Raskin, who represents Maryland’s 8th district, where South Carroll is located, and plan a visit that would coincide with the Congressional break and School Library Media Month.  More than ever, school libraries are important to our students.  Libraries are the places where students can find information from different perspectives, learn to evaluate resources, and develop a love of reading.  Libraries have also become a hub for technology and innovation in many schools.  Finally, libraries are also places for all students to feel welcome.  Data shows that when school libraries are well funded and utilized by all members of the school, student achievement increase.  In these times of budget cuts and accountability, school libraries must remain open and well funded! So, when Congressman Raskin confirmed his visit for April 12th, I was really excited to show him these things!  Congressman Raskin got to experience an Hour of Code, see our #weneeddiversebooks March Madness display, and visit with lunch students.   Then, we invited 4 government classes to come to the media center for a Q and A with Congressman Raskin.  Prior to serving in Congress, Mr. Raskin was a law professor at American University Washington College of Law, and published We the Students a book about Supreme Court cases that affect students.  Interestingly, we have this book in our media center, and Congressman Raskin signed our copy!  His knowledge and perspective on student rights was well- received by many students.

I’m hoping Congressman Raskin walked away with a new picture of what a school library is and can be.  When it comes time to fund quality school programs and maintain school budgets, I’m hoping he can step through on our behalf.  Inviting Congressman Raskin to experience my media center for two hours also taught me to be bold in my advocacy.  We are truly the voices of our programs, and the best way we can advocate for our programs is to show them in action!

Our local paper, the Carroll County Times, wrote a great article, with pictures and a video, to capture the event.  I was so busy I forgot to pick up my camera!


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