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School Libraries Play an Indispensable Role

Today, Mrs. Laura Bush announced that more than $930,000 is being distributed to 160 school libraries from 38 states across the country through the 2017 library grants from the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries.

Article by Tracy Young May 19, 2017 //   4 minute read

Today, Mrs. Laura Bush announced more than $930,000 is being distributed to 160 school libraries from 38 states, including the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands, across the country through the 2017 library grants from the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries. The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries is proud to support school librarians and students of all reading skill levels in school libraries where the needs are greatest.

“School libraries play an indispensable role in improving student achievement and encouraging students’ love for reading,” said Mrs. Laura Bush during a visit to Tolbert Elementary (2013 grantee). “Our school libraries and committed librarians are necessary for increasing reading skills of all ages and at all grade levels. A big thank you goes to the principals who recognize the impact of a strong librarian working with teachers to nurture and grow robust readers.” 

In total from 2002 to today’s announcement, the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries has awarded over $14.3 million to more than 2,700 schools in all 50 states across the country. These are grants specifically given to the Nation’s neediest schools to 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 Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries has an Advisory Committee comprised of librarians and reading specialists who volunteer to oversee the grants process every year. One member of the Laura Bush Foundation Advisory Committee, Dr. Daniella Smith from the University of North Texas, joined the celebration today. As a former school librarian, Dr. Smith said, “I love the work Mrs. Bush does with the foundation because she touches so many lives. I was pleased to meet the librarians who sacrificed their time to write the grants, and I was ecstatic that their principals joined them here today. Innovative school librarians and supportive principals are the foundations of library programming that is needed to champion academic achievement in our schools.”

Dallas-Fort Worth-area grantees from 2017, Veda Knox Elementary from Arlington ISD and Tomas Rivera Elementary from Denton ISD, shared their excitement at the announcement of grant funds heading to their libraries.

Veda Knox Elementary librarian, Jamika Jefferson, stated in the grant application, “Students' reading skill levels will increase as a result of more time spent reading material they enjoy.” Jamika Jefferson works with teachers to provide learning opportunities for students to use technology for research, to teach information and library skills, and to promote the use of reliable and educationally sound resources.

Susan Garvin, the Tomas Rivera Elementary librarian, shared in the grant application, “For most students, our school library is the only source of reading and information that they will encounter in their lives. Our library is a busy learning center filled with children daily and it is vital to the accomplishment of their instructional goals. We foster a love of reading and our students fully embrace our library and its collection.”

The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries continues to showcase the importance of strong school libraries and dedicated school librarians in building reading skills for students in collaboration with teachers and school administrators. Whether students are learning to read or reading to learn, the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries is honored to help put new and updated books into the hands of students.

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