Presidents Message Sept. 2022

Hello Fellow UELMA Members!

I want to thank you all for your amazing and tireless work on behalf of libraries.  It is so wonderful to see you creating welcoming spaces that invite every student in and allow them to read, explore, learn, and grow.  You have the unique position of knowing everyone in the school and providing effective library programs that meet their needs and support their growth and empowerment.  As an agent for change in your school, your influence touches them and you make a difference.

All throughout our beautiful state we have librarians advocating for readers’ rights.  Thank you for all you do and have done.  Thank you for writing grants to suppliment your budgets, improving your collections through study, reading, and throwing bookfairs to enlarge and improve your collections.  There may be many who don’t see how hard you work, but I do and I appreciate your kindness, your optimism, and your desire to love and support your students and faculty.

I am also grateful to our talented and motivated board!  We have amazing librarians meeting the needs of our members.  Past President, Tricia Fenton has an amazing conference plan coming together for March 10th!  We will have Meg Medina and Maulik Pancholy as our keynotes!!  Watch for more conference news coming soon.

Our President-Elect Gretchen Zaitzeff is revving up the communications committee.  More is coming.  More great ideas on social media, more opportunities to advocate for libraries (mark your calendar for February 7th, Library on the Hill Day and a chance to meet our state representatives and speak for libraries) and more from you.  We need you!  We need your ideas, experiences, and especially your input into the direction we are taking UELMA.  

Our UELMA is changing.  We want to add more PD so look for additional ideas coming.  New classes will be offered and we are working to get them up so you can earn relicensure credit for even more amazing librarianship and advocacy in the future.  We will be adding lesson plans.  And we may be adding additional conference options… stay tuned.  I am working with a wonderful committee and thank them for their hard work.  Please take the time to answer our surveys and send us your best and brightest ideas.  We also want to highlight all that you are doing to make Utah School Libraries the best.  

This year has put us more in the position of advocating for libraries than ever before.  We need your voices added to what we are doing to be heard, understood, and seen as dedicated professionals promoting intellectual freedom in schools.  We are working on upcoming legislation, will be on the hill during the legislative session, and are meeting with key advocates to create a larger voice for school libraries.  We are important.

Happy Banned Book Week next week.  I don’t say that lightly.  I will be hunkered down reading aloud from Harry Potter (banned for promoting witchcraft to children),  Hop on Pop (banned for promoting children abusing parents), and maybe a little Lorax (banned for being anti-logging).  I think they are imaginative and my students don’t interpret them that way.  Neither do I.  I will be promoting intellectual freedom to my wonderful students!!  Please do what you feel is best in your situation.  But know that I advocate for you and I read banned books!!

Librarians in Alpine, Canyons, Salt Lake, Davis, and St. George Districts are working hard to provide intellectual freedom as well as many other schools and districts.  Thank you for what you are doing!!!  If I haven’t heard about your book challenges, please let me know in the upcoming survey.  We will help all that we can and speak out for libraries.  Everyone is welcome.  Everyone is valued.  We make a difference!  We change lives.  Have an amazing month!!

Your President,

Michele Edgley, Uintah Elementary

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ULA/UELMA Joint Statement on Alpine School District Book Removals

The Utah Library Association (ULA) and the Utah Educational Library Media Association (UELMA) are aware of the removal of 52 books from Alpine School District. We are alarmed because it is clear from the school board meeting that the sub-committee tasked with evaluating these books did not fully read them. It is necessary for every challenged library material to be evaluated as a whole. This requirement was established in the Supreme Court case, Miller v. California (1973). Federal law requires that the “Miller Test” be followed to determine the serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value of an entire book and state law mirrors this requirement. Thus, the “Miller Test” was not followed when books were removed without due process. The Supreme Court also ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969) that students’ First Amendment rights must be protected while they are in school. Illegally removing these books infringes upon Utah students’ protected First Amendment rights. This dangerous move not only opens up Utah taxpayers to costly and time consuming litigation, it also harms students.

Students can safely explore at their school library under the guidance of professional school librarians. School libraries were designated “places of voluntary inquiry” in the Supreme Court ruling Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982). Thus, students must have access to books that not only reflect their own experiences but also help them learn about others. Having access to books that reflect the many aspects of human thought and experience is more important than ever as our students grow to become leaders in our global environment. It is extremely troubling that 21 of the books that were removed have LGBTQIA+ characters and themes. Our LGBTQIA+ youth have the highest youth suicide rate in the nation. However, the Trevor Project reports that LGBTQIA+ youth are less likely to attempt suicide when they have access to LGBTQIA+ affirming spaces and information. Many of the books that were removed also deal with complex issues such as race, growing up, health, and addiction. These books might not be right for every reader but school librarians work with parents and caregivers every day to help them find appropriate materials for their children. We believe that parents and caregivers have the right to discuss reading and book selections with their own children. However, they do not have the right to make these crucial decisions for other families. We encourage all Utahns who are interested in learning more about the important role of libraries in supporting student success and a healthy democracy to read our jointly authored ebook, “Utah Libraries: Keystone of Healthy Democracy, Student Success, and Prosperous Communities” available for download at

We call on the Board of Alpine School District to immediately return all books to the shelf. If there are legitimate challenges to any books, the Board must follow their own policy and state and federal laws in evaluating each title as a whole to determine whether it has serious value for students and involving parents that are reflective of the school community in this process.