I have read this through several times since it arrived in my inbox, and while I am pleased we were heard, I am finding my initial optimism waning. There is much work yet to be done.
The first paragraph of the response highlights the broad roles the library fills in education. Wow! The White House understands the many facets of libraries and the programs they offer!!! This had me doing a happy dance, as changing the perceived role of the library (from just a room with books to an engaging learning/collaboration center) is half of our challenge.
Yet, as I read further, I found myself wondering what, if any, changes will be prompted by the White House. Nowhere does the response state that strong library programs will be required, nor highly recommended. Nowhere does it state that a certified librarian is essential for a strong library program.
Instead, libraries appear to be lumped in with other "literacy plans".
Libraries should, and do, support literacy instruction. But my concerns with this response are that librarians are not mentioned and libraries are thrown into the arena with all other aspects of literacy instruction - curriculum, materials, programs, pedagogies - and the library's role to support instruction in all other curriculum areas is overlooked. What about research skills, information access, evaluating sources?
Is a room full of books a library? If a child is literate (able to read and write) but does not know how to ask critical questions or independently find information to answer questions (whether for an assignment or to satisfy his/her curiosities), is he/she educated? What skills does a literate child need to be college ready?
This was a successful first step... but it is the first of many steps. With funding being flexible for states and districts to use as they choose, we must continue to spread the message and change the perception of the library. Books... literacy... MORE!