SLRI Update

October 2022

President's Message

Although the past several months have been relatively quiet, SLRI had a very busy 2021/2022 school year. Our primary concern was the proliferation of book challenges in Rhode Island. I am so proud of all the librarians who faced the challenges in a professional and informed manner. Sadly, this issue is not fading away anytime soon. If needed, RILA and its Intellectual Freedom Committee have information on the RILA website for help with censorship and book challenges. Please reach out to me as well, so SLRI can offer its support. For those of you who missed our spring meeting featuring Barbara Stripling from ALA Freedom to Read, the recording and presentation are available to members.

In October, Senator Jack Reed introduced the Right to Read Act. The bill reaffirms that first amendment rights apply to school libraries. The bill also calls for diversified library collections and protections for librarians carrying out their professional responsibilities. The bill is supported by ALA. SLRI will keep you updated on the bill’s status.

SLRI will continue with the “Conversation” series beginning in January 2023. Information on meeting dates and topics will be forthcoming.

Joan Mouradjian

SLRI President

Right to Read Act Legislation Introduced by Senator Reed

On October 6, Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed introduced the Right to Read Act, legislation that will target disparities in access to school library resources, "ensuring that students have evidence-based reading instruction, well stocked and staffed school libraries, family literacy programs, a wide range of reading materials, and the freedom to choose what to read. It also addresses the information digital literacy needs of today’s students. The bill goes further to strengthen effective school libraries by investing in recruiting and retaining state-certified school librarians, and supporting staff working to broaden access to library collections." Reed is co-sponsoring the legislation with Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva. In response to recent library book challenges, the legislation also reinforces that libraries are protected by the first amendment, as are school librarians and educators who uphold students' right to read.

“Quality teaching and effective school libraries go hand-in-hand with securing the right to read for our students. We know that literacy is key to unlocking opportunity and success,” said Senator Reed. “The Right to Read Act is about making sure that low-income, minority, children with disabilities, and English language learners have equal access to that opportunity through high quality, appropriately staffed school libraries and diverse and inclusive reading materials both at school and at home.”

SLRI Represented on Banned Books Week Panel

On September 28, SLRI members Lisa Girard, Marianne Mirando and Esther Wolk joined fellow school librarians and teachers from Rhode Island districts to discuss recent book challenges they've faced. The panel, convened at URI during Banned Books Week, was entitled "Don't Say That! Don't Read That!" and was sponsored by URI's Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies. The discussion drew community members, teachers and pre-service teachers to a conversation in which panelists shared their experiences with challenges and how they responded to them.

LMSs Help Students Explore STEM Careers

Two Rhode Island school librarians recently combined successful grant writing and partnerships with other Rhode Island organizations to encourage their students to explore STEM. Bevin Winner, Exeter-West Greenwich Junior/Senior High School, and Chariho Regional High School's Mary Manning, in partnership with the RI Computer Museum (RICM), participated in the Greenpower Electric Car Challenge, a hands-on STEM project that allows students to strengthen design and teamwork skills. The two schools were selected by the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) for a grant to support learning funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The project gave over 30 students the opportunity to connect with peers, library staff, career and technical faculty, and a mentor from the RI Computer Museum to build and customize a formula-24 car kit as a real-world exploration of STEM careers.

Winner and Manning applied for the grant. Teams of students and teachers at each school worked on building the cars through the semester, while Winner and Manning promoted the project and design and integrated career and college readiness aspects. They also planned the field trip to the racetrack at Ninigret Park in May, where the completed cars were slated to race each other. While rain prevented the two teams from racing simultaneously, they compared time trial results, so "it was a bit unofficial, but still fun," said Winner.

Plans are for the Challenge to continue next year, with additional schools joining the program.

RILA Conference Highlights

The Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) annual conference, whose theme was Restore, Reconnect, Reflect, held in May at Brant University, featured many valuable sessions. The youth and school library track featured panel discussions and presentations on project-based learning, inclusive reading clubs, TikTok, RIMSBA, libraries as publishers, RILBA, RITBA, media literacy education in RI, RICBA and censorship.

Congratulations to SLRI Award Winners and Honored Conference Guests!

On the Calendar

Summer 2023: Find Your Voice, Join iREAD for an introduction to the 2023 summer reading program, entitled "Find Your Voice!" November 2, 2022, 2:00-3:00

Cornucopia of Rhode Island Annual Mini Conference, Recruitment and Retention of Librarians of Color. November 3, 2022, 2:00-4:30

RILA/Peer 2 Peer University Workshops, December 8, 2022- June 8, 2023

Keep Us in the Loop

Do you have good news to share about your library or work with students and your community? Let SLRI help you spread the word! Please let us know about your great work by using this form.

Where Are You?

If you have begun teaching at a new school, please email Joanne Gongoleski so she can update our membership list.

Got Questions? We've Got Answers!

Did you know that one of the benefits of your SLRI membership is that you can consult with other members at any time? Whether it's a question about a particular book, a policy or just input from a colleague, you can use the the SLRI listserv to solicit advice from the membership. Just send an email with your question to