Build a better Delaware, vote for library supporters

Delaware Library Association's Legislative Action Committee Chair, Catherine Wimberley, shares an election-eve message for all Delawareans. 


Libraries aren’t on the ballot in this month, but the decisions Delawareans are making about who will represent us in the legislature will impact public and school libraries for years to come.

The Delaware Library Association surveyed everyone running for the state Senate and House of Representatives this year to learn about their interest in funding libraries. There is wide support for programs, funding and innovations through Delaware libraries among responding candidates.

In our survey, there was nearly universal agreement among the candidates that Delaware students should have access to school libraries staffed by certified school librarians. Right now, Delaware ranks 32nd in the ratio of students to school librarians — well behind states like Montana, Louisiana and Georgia.

Legislative candidates say that we should provide students with a comprehensive education in digital citizenship, and information and media literacy. Having certified school librarians and an up-to-date collection is as important as having school counselors, social workers and music and art teachers for students. Delaware has taken initiative this year with House Bill 300, a bill that established a ratio of counselors to students. It’s the right time for our state to do the same with school librarians.

In the past year, Sen. Sarah McBride, D-Wilmington, included school librarians in Senate Bill 195, a new media literacy standard for all schools, and Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, and other legislators secured $1 million in new funding which will be invested in a shared library catalog between school and public libraries. Gov. John Carney has made Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library a signature initiative to support literacy and reading across the state. The governor and our congressional delegation secured $40 million in federal funding to build or renovate nine public libraries across all three counties. It is this type of vision that is essential to the future of libraries and the communities and campuses we serve.

For the past several years, the Delaware Library Association’s legislative priorities have focused on ensuring that our libraries support school readiness, employment and workforce development, and healthy thriving communities. We have an agenda to expand literacy services, job skill training and telehealth access in our public libraries, while revitalizing school libraries. These kinds of strategic investments support equity for communities throughout the state.

When you make your plan to vote next week, take the time to see which candidates support libraries because investments in libraries support you, your neighbors and the future of our great state.

Catherine Wimberley


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