American Library Association (ALA) President Loida Garcia-Febo’s Libraries = Strong Communities tour landed in Cranston, Rhode Island, on October 22. The tour is a national advocacy effort that spotlights dynamic library programs that transform lives through education and lifelong learning.
Garcia-Febo used the opportunity to recognize the work of school libraries, especially highlighting the library at Cranston High School East for adopting the American Association of School Librarians’ National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries.
Librarian and Media Specialist Heidi Blais, who was named Cranston’s Teacher of the Year in 2014, creates a welcoming and empowering environment for her students. More than 60 students visit the library each day before school even begins. The space is heavily utilized, providing the arena for collaborative classes and students working on individual research projects, choosing reading materials, or collaborating in small groups. Students also donate their time to the library, shelving books, creating displays, and helping maintain more than 30 computers.
“Our nation’s school librarians are the heart of their schools and central to their district’s goals,” said Garcia-Febo. “Cranston schools offer a strong school library program, and its certified school librarians ensure that students have the best chance to succeed in our 21st-century global marketplace.”
During her visit, library staffers displayed the library’s technology resources and demonstrated how school library programs foster critical thinking by providing students with the research skills they need to analyze, form, and communicate ideas in compelling ways.
Garcia-Febo said she was impressed by the energy in the library, as she met with teachers, the school principal, and members of the community.
“I was glad to see that type of support for school libraries,” she said. “That’s a testament to the type of support that school libraries have in Cranston. And that’s the type of support that we want for school libraries around the nation.”
Garcia-Febo said she was especially impressed when she met a group of students who recently arrived in the US and are taking ESL classes. They were using the library for a homework assignment comparing the popular culture of the US to their previous countries’ cultures.
“I thought that was really neat that the school validates their experiences,” she said. “I thought that was beautiful, smart, and inclusive.”
Edward Garcia, director of the Cranston Public Library and ALA councilor, attended the event, telling the Cranston Herald, “It was an honor to have ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo visit Cranston High School East to advocate for the importance of school librarians.”
He added, “The Cranston schools and Cranston Public Library have a strong partnership, and I am thankful that all the work that has been accomplished in Cranston for student success is recognized nationally. Perhaps Cranston can be an example of collaboration for other locations around Rhode Island and the US that are questioning the importance of school librarians in student learning.”