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Jonna Ashley (staff)'s picture

Affiliate Assembly Concern Discussion #5

This is our last concern to discuss. Please, be sure that you have posted any remaining comments to all five concerns by Friday October 18th. Next week I will be compiling your thoughts and ideas for each concern to share with the Executive Committee during their October 25-26 meeting.

Name and Contact Information of Affiliate Organization

Kansas Association of School Librarians

Gwen Lehman, President, Gwen.lehman@usd495.net
Carmaine Ternes, President-Elect, carmaine.ternes@usd253.net

State Concern

Since Kansas has extreme levels of poverty and wealth in addition to a vast array of students with high and low reading levels, one concern is the lack of materials and library curriculum available to students.

For instance, over 2,000 Wichita school children are considered homeless. Over 66 percent of Emporia students accept free or reduced lunch. If AASL wishes to raise awareness about poverty and literacy, perhaps more materials and professionals should be available.

Another complication is the fact that numerous students do not live in one household with two parents/guardians. Often times, students live in one home on select days a month, while living with a grandparent a few days a month. If students live in multiple homes or move several times within a school year, they have limited access to academic resources and educators. If students move from parent to parent or town to town, they are at higher-risk of not graduating high school, not being functionally literate, and not being productive members of society.

Not only are students not returning library materials and textbooks, they are leaving without a basic understanding of the curriculum and life-long learning skills. How unfortunate that school libraries across Kansas have transient students who never experience a true library and rarely return books that are vital to the school.

My district is in one of the bottom two lowest income counties in the state. People survive, many times 'off the land' as their family has done for generations.  The school is really the pipeline into this century for these kids. It is so important that we provide access and the 'how-to' for all information and the DESIRE for information to these students so that they can at least live an informed life, even if they choose not to leave the area or change their way of living.  To me the library and all we can provide offers a life-choice to them that they may not get in the classroom.

We need to go beyond the homeless and non-traditional homes (which are actually becoming the traditional home) to include foster care and migrant worker students. 

Action (if any) taken by Affiliate Organization

We are planning a sharing/problem solving session at our next state conference next fall.

Action Requested of AASL

We would like to see AASL offer programming, strategies or resources for school libraries serving homeless and transient student populations.

5- Concern Homeless.pdf40.45 KB
Terri Grief's picture

I wish I'd known about this before the Hartford conference. It is a huge issue in most states. This might be a task force issue. I am not sure AASL does programming, etc. I think our members are the ones that do that. Does that make sense?

Terri Grief

Catherine G. Evans's picture

It seems that this is a nationwide issue and one that affects public libraries as well.   In looking at all of the already in place ALA committees, I was wondering if this is something that could be addressed by the Literacy and Outreach Services Advisory committee?   


Jody Howard's picture

I agree that this is a problem that is something that most states are experiencing. A taskforce to see what actions need to be implemented is a good idea. A taskforce could at least provide us with a direction as to overall recommendations that we could consider.


Jody K. Howard, Ph.D.



Susan Nickel (non-member)'s picture

This is a concern for many of us. A task force could address this concern.  My colleagues and  I do all we can for these students. I often partner with my local public library to provide services for this special population. We all lose books each year and I have comes to terms with that. I hope the books that are not returned become cherished possessions of the children.

Audrey Church's picture

I agree that this is a national issue and support the formation of a Task Force to study what AASL can do to support its members in this area...perhaps a position statement or a white paper?  A toolkit of resources?  A Task Force might study the issue and suggest the best approach. 

Susan Ballard's picture

I was red-faced when this concern surfaced at the Affiliate Assembly...of course we should be concerned and doing something about providing quality service to our homeless/transient populations.  I was embarrassed to think we had not thought to act before in order to provide some guidance to members - and I suspect we are all in agreement that this needs our attention - yesterday!  I like the idea of a Task Force charge with creation of a Tool Kit as well as forging partnerships with other agencies to ensure that we are covering our bases in providing services and getting the word out to families that we are there for them.


Cindy Pfeiffer's picture

I agree with Susan.  The discussions both in our state and at Annual were very enlightening about equity of access to information when we expect students to
“BYOD, Bring your own device” and also to sign replacement contracts to check out devices when that may not be feasible for the family. In our district, we are being “encouraged” to flip our classrooms which requires students to have access to computers and
internet at home. My students are scrambling to use the computers before school and during seminars. Even if our district moves to a 1:1 initiative, I’d like to be able to be a proactive voice in the discussion of issues.  I agree that a Task Force makes a
lot of sense.  As the discussion at Affiliate showed, some states and districts already have a head start on this issue. 


om: ALA Connect [mailto:connect@ala.org]


Robbie Nickel's picture

I would agree about the Task Force. Finding out what some of the states are doing, providing a tool kit, finding a place to fit it in the current structure, would be some suggestions.