On being thankful: We all make the world

Throughout the year, committees of the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, are hard at work selecting the year’s best in reading and reference for adult readers. The culminating event, RUSA’s Book and Media Awards Ceremony, celebrates the authors, publishers and member volunteers that make these selections worthy of merit. If you’ve ever been to one of these events, you may have seen these titles beautifully displayed for attendees to peruse.

Shortly after the announcements, the RUSA staff work with ALA’s Office for Library Advocacy (OLA) in identifying and selecting Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in need of resources to update and enrich their collections to better serve their students and support their curriculum. OLA’s Megan Cusick, former CPS librarian, then works with CPS staff in arranging donations of our expert-selected resources. Did you know that Chicago is home to over 600 public schools? Unfortunately, many of them are not adequately staffed and have old, out of date resources in their collections.

One CPS librarian to receive a donation is Timothy Toner, Library Media Specialist at John Hancock College Prep High School.  After the high school had recently been named as a selective enrollment school, Mr. Toner performed an assessment and discovered that the collection was “sorely lacking” and that “reference sets were mostly out of date.” Before, his primary goal was reading enrichment and he focused on “graphic novels and the kind of fiction titles our students either wanted to read or I could sell to them with a little context.” Expanding the existing collection provides students a broader and more sophisticated array of options to use in conjunction with the new curriculum.

Upon receiving a number of reference sets (from the Outstanding Reference Sources and Dartmouth Medal selections) Toner said that, “We have started offering semester long electives to increase student engagement (and combat the ever dreadful Senioritis), and The Native American Almanac  (Visible Ink Press, 2016) has already seen use in our Native American Studies course, as well as Latinos and the Law (Oxford University Press, 2017) in our Pre-Law classes.”

“I cannot sufficiently express how much your donation has meant to the students of John Hancock College Prep.”

It’s not often that we hear how our work directly impacts the lives of others. It’s stories like these that motivate us to keep doing the work that we do because we know how important it is to be armed with ability to seek the Truth. In the spirit of being thankful, and, as Mr. Toner salutes, “Omnes Mundum Facimus.” We all make the world.

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