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School Libraries Play an Indispensable Role

May 19, 2017 4 minute Read by Tracy Young
Today, Mrs. Laura Bush announced that more than $930,000 is being distributed to 160 school libraries from 38 states across the country through the 2017 library grants from the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries.

Today, Mrs. Laura Bush announced more than $930,000 is being distributed to 160 school libraries from 38 states, including the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands, across the country through the 2017 library grants from the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries. The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries is proud to support school librarians and students of all reading skill levels in school libraries where the needs are greatest.

“School libraries play an indispensable role in improving student achievement and encouraging students’ love for reading,” said Mrs. Laura Bush during a visit to Tolbert Elementary (2013 grantee). “Our school libraries and committed librarians are necessary for increasing reading skills of all ages and at all grade levels. A big thank you goes to the principals who recognize the impact of a strong librarian working with teachers to nurture and grow robust readers.” 

In total from 2002 to today’s announcement, the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries has awarded over $14.3 million to more than 2,700 schools in all 50 states across the country. These are grants specifically given to the Nation’s neediest schools to extend, update, and diversify the book and print collections in their libraries with the goal of encouraging students to develop a love of reading and learning.

The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries has an Advisory Committee comprised of librarians and reading specialists who volunteer to oversee the grants process every year. One member of the Laura Bush Foundation Advisory Committee, Dr. Daniella Smith from the University of North Texas, joined the celebration today. As a former school librarian, Dr. Smith said, “I love the work Mrs. Bush does with the foundation because she touches so many lives. I was pleased to meet the librarians who sacrificed their time to write the grants, and I was ecstatic that their principals joined them here today. Innovative school librarians and supportive principals are the foundations of library programming that is needed to champion academic achievement in our schools.”

Dallas-Fort Worth-area grantees from 2017, Veda Knox Elementary from Arlington ISD and Tomas Rivera Elementary from Denton ISD, shared their excitement at the announcement of grant funds heading to their libraries.

Veda Knox Elementary librarian, Jamika Jefferson, stated in the grant application, “Students' reading skill levels will increase as a result of more time spent reading material they enjoy.” Jamika Jefferson works with teachers to provide learning opportunities for students to use technology for research, to teach information and library skills, and to promote the use of reliable and educationally sound resources.

Susan Garvin, the Tomas Rivera Elementary librarian, shared in the grant application, “For most students, our school library is the only source of reading and information that they will encounter in their lives. Our library is a busy learning center filled with children daily and it is vital to the accomplishment of their instructional goals. We foster a love of reading and our students fully embrace our library and its collection.”

The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries continues to showcase the importance of strong school libraries and dedicated school librarians in building reading skills for students in collaboration with teachers and school administrators. Whether students are learning to read or reading to learn, the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries is honored to help put new and updated books into the hands of students.


Author

Tracy Young
Tracy Young

Tracy Young serves as senior advisor for the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries, a restricted fund at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.  She first joined the George W. Bush Institute in November 2014 as the Director of Education Reform. Before joining the Bush Institute, she served as the Vice President of Public & Government Affairs at the Texas Charter Schools Association. Prior to her non-profit work, Tracy served as Director of Communications for Texas House Speaker Joe Straus from 2009 - 2012.

During the last year of the George W. Bush Administration, she was Deputy Regional Representative for Secretary Spellings, based in Texas. Tracy worked as Special Assistant for Education at the White House during the 2007 No Child Left Behind reauthorization efforts. In 2005, she was named Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education where she directed the Strategic Communications team and the press office. Prior to her work at the U.S. Department of Education, Tracy served as the Associate Director of Communications at the White House, focused on the Domestic Policy Council. At the start of the George W. Bush Administration, Tracy worked on Communications media events on the White House grounds, including her favorite events of the year – Tee Ball on the South Lawn. Before the start of her public service, Tracy worked with the N.R.C.C. on behalf of congressional candidates across the country. She also worked in the non-profit sector with college students, university and community leaders to increase awareness and participation in volunteer service. Tracy graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and minor in psychology from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, and is a native of Euless, Texas.

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