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School Libraries & Literacy: Past, Present, and Future

Article by Tracy Young December 14, 2016 //   4 minute read

The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries is thrilled with the response to this year’s school library grant application. 

Mrs. Bush, a former teacher and librarian, has long championed the importance of reading as the foundation of all learning.  Founded in her name in 2002, the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries helps students in our nation’s neediest schools by awarding grants to school libraries in an effort to improve reading and overall student achievement.

The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries provides funds to our Nation’s neediest schools so that they can extend, update, and diversify the book and print collections in their libraries with the goal of encouraging students to develop a love of reading and learning.

The School Library Journal profiled the Laura Bush Foundation past and present in June writing,

Librarians stick together, even after they leave the stacks and move on to higher-profile posts. How high? Laura Bush is a prime example. In the years before she became first lady and moved to the White House, she taught public school and worked as a librarian. Her love of books and her deep respect for librarians has endured to this day.

“Since its start in 2002, the foundation has channeled more than $13 million to 2,500 needy schools nationwide, supplying them with nearly a quarter of a million pieces of material…The organization’s reach is wide, working with all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and military bases.

“This foundation’s funds have also significantly improved the reference collection for Navajo students in New Mexico. Marilyn Stucky, librarian at Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington, NM, reports that the new materials lowered the age of both the general reference collections by one to two years. “This may not seem like a lot, but the collection had been stagnant for three years prior due to limited funds, and the reference collection is pivotal for student learning,” she says.

“Patty Berry, librarian at Hebard Elementary, a Title I school with one of the highest poverty rates in the Laramie County (WY) School District, knows that a literate life impacts a student’s academic career. “The funds from the Laura Bush Foundation helped to create a completely new library with books that’ll not only change students’ lives but reach their homes, siblings, and parents by making literacy a connecting point,” she explains.

As we look to the future, the Laura Bush Foundation is grateful to all the librarians, educators, and volunteers who submitted applications and for working to update and improve library collections for students across the country.  Applications are now closed for 2016-2017, and our Advisory Committee will get to work reading and reviewing grant requests.  We look forward to hearing your stories and hope you will stay in touch.

Please check back at laurabushfoundation.org and sign up to Stay Connected when we announce grantees in spring 2017.