Welcome to the RILA Bulletin Spotlight Series, where we feature the important work of a different RILA or RI library section, committee, roundtable, initiative, or organization in each issue.
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August 2021 Spotlight: School Librarians of Rhode Island (SLRI)
This month, with the new school year right around the corner, we talked to Joan Eldredge-Mouradjian, President of School Librarians of Rhode Island (SLRI). Joan is the School Library Media Specialist at Narragansett Pier School in Narragansett, RI.
What is the mission or purpose of SLRI?
Our mission is three-fold: to promote the improvement of instruction through opportunities that broaden the professional knowledge, understanding, and experience of our members; to provide leadership in defining, interpreting, and promoting effective library media programs to the community; and to serve as facilitator between the State Department of Education, Office of Library and Information Services, professional organizations, and the general public.
What made you personally interested in being involved with this organization?
I was really inspired to become an active member of SLRI by my friend Sarah Hunicke, who is a past president of the organization. Sarah is passionate about libraries. I was always a member of SLRI, but I think I took for granted all the work and advocacy the organization accomplishes on behalf of school librarians. Over the past years, some districts have cut librarian positions at all levels, reduced funding, and really minimized the importance of a school library staffed by a Library Media Specialist. I thought it was time to give back to my beloved profession and the organization that has supported libraries.
What is SLRI’s proudest achievement?
After nearly two years of work with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the RILA Legislative Action Committee, SLRI made a presentation to the RI Council on Elementary and Secondary Education requesting that RIDE endorse the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National School Library Standards. At the end of the meeting, the Council voted unanimously to accept the Standards. This endorsement reinforces the importance of librarians and school libraries in Rhode Island and recognizes the value of a standards-based library curriculum, which is a critical component of student academic success.
RIDE has since officially endorsed the AASL National School Library Standards, which are used to guide school library curriculum in RI. The endorsement solidified RIDE’s belief that strong school libraries and certified school librarians play a key role in student learning and achievement. These Standards emphasize important aspects of student learning and development that allow students to develop the abilities to think, to create, to share, and to grow.
What ongoing challenges does SLRI face?
The biggest challenge for SLRI is to ensure that school librarians are recognized for their role in the success of all students. The roles and responsibilities of school librarians have evolved in recent decades to meet the needs of today’s learning initiatives. It is more important than ever, in this age of information and disinformation, that students are given the research skills necessary for college and career readiness and the skills to be informed and active citizens. Now, with the plethora of information available to students, librarians are needed more than ever.
If money and time were not an issue, what is SLRI’s number one wish list item to support its mission or purpose?
If money were no object, SLRI would ensure that every school in Rhode Island was staffed with a certified Library Media Specialist, and that the LMS would have a budget that allowed for the purchase of proper resources for every student.
What partnerships with other groups or individuals (inside or outside of RILA) have been most beneficial for SLRI to meet its goals or objectives?
Being part of RILA has made SLRI a stronger organization. For example, SLRI and the RILA Legislative Action Committee worked together to promote the adoption of the AASL Standards by RIDE. The Rhode Island Library and Information Network for Kids (RILINK) supports libraries, students, and teachers with training and shared resources. RILINK has been invaluable to the SLRI community. [Editor’s note: RILINK is the membership-based statewide consortium of school libraries.]
Is SLRI looking for new members, and how can those interested get involved?
One of the goals for SLRI is to encourage all school librarians in Rhode Island to join the organization. Involved members will help SLRI to continue advocating for librarians in RI. Please join SLRI or renew membership by clicking here to access the RILA membership web page. Librarians wishing to become involved in SLRI can click here to visit the SLRI web page and contact any board member for information.
What book are you reading now that you’d like to promote?
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. I loved this book because it focuses on a little-known story of female British code breakers in World War II. This is a page-turner, with characters I cared about.