Submission Guidelines for School Libraries: What Next? E-book

Last Updated July 18, 2011

Edited by Kristin Fontichiaro and Buffy Hamilton

Foreword by R. David Lankes

All Submissions due to 

by September 15, 2011

Watch the book grow! We update the contents of each chapter here:


We are delighted to accept submissions for a collection of crowdsourced short essays on the future of school libraries from multiple perspectives, to be published in e-book format to coincide with Treasure Mountain and AASL in October 2011. We believe this e-book is a way for librarians to take the lead as content creators and publishers with custom, community-significant content for patrons. We imagine e-readers as publishing platforms for us, not competition.


Whether you’re an ardent supporter or see the proverbial handwriting on the wall, what do you see as the next 10 or 20 years of school libraries? This book will also tackle an “elephant in the room” question: with the nation’s education systems in an economic depression and many school librarians being pink-slipped, what is the future of school libraries? How might they be reinvented to remain deeply significant – for student learning? Should they? What past practices will we need to jettison? What stalwart beliefs must we hold tightly?



What Topics Are We Looking For?


We have selected eleven broad topics of interest, along with some suggested essential questions. We encourage you to submit under any of the areas (see submissions page).

We’ve been asked a few times if you can submit more than once. For now, yes … up to three times. (If we end up discovering that multiple submissions are doubling or tripling the length of the manuscript, we may pull back … but we won’t take anything out of the book once it’s been put in.)


Who Can Submit?

We welcome submissions from:


Submission Guidelines

Digital publishing opens up new possibilities. No longer restricted to a particiular print size or book length, we would like to publish each essay that is received as long as it fits our guidelines. We believe that digital publishing such as this can give voice to those who might otherwise be crowded out.

We are inspired by the five guidelines for the This I Believe series of radio entries for National Public Radio: tell a story, be brief, name your position, be positive, and be personal.

Tell a Story

One of the most powerful ways we can communicate the power of school libraries - or articulate a vision for the future - is to consider writing from the perspective of a story, rather than a position paper. For example, instead of writing, “Six reasons why libraries should have a certified school librarian,” tell your story of how taking over a library previously organized by non-certified staff improved test scores, student morale, or circulation.

Be Brief

We ask you to limit your essays to about 350 to 600 words. We do this consciously, because shorter works take less time to compose for busy, established voices and are more welcoming to new voices.

Name Your Position -- Narrow Your Topic

Focus your essay on a specific essential question from the list (or a related essential question that fits into the main categories) and look into the near-future (10-20 years from now, rather than kooky Jetson-era extrapolations). In 350 to 600 words, you won’t be able to tell us everything you want to say about The Great Big World of Libraries. Instead, focus on one aspect or one story. One piece of advice from This I Believe is to ask yourself to summarize your essay in a sentence or two. If that is difficult, then your topic may be too broad. It is better to focus your mini-essay on one particular topic (e.g., storytime) than a mélange of many different topics (the entire K-5 library curriculum). Follow Lucy Calkins’ advice of “small moments” rather than large, sweeping landscapes.

Be Positive

If there is one guideline to which we, as editors, wish to adhere most, it is this one. We know times are tough in libraries. We also know that a book full of negativity, vitriol, and factions is no fun to read, and we want this book to inspire us all to try new things and imagine new possibilities. We are interested in constructive conversations, not muckraking, pontificating, or finger-pointing. We want to hear your experiences and your library’s story. We want people to think and to let it be an opportunity to think about, formulate, and articulate their beliefs.

We take seriously the guidance of Paul Courant, University Librarian of the University of Michigan, who reminds libraries that adversaries (colleagues who work together and respect one another despite differences of opinion) are different from enemies (those we detest and will not work with). We would like this book to welcome differing opinions as long as they are respectful and professional in tone. “Enemy” language deprofessionalizes us, puts the profession at risk, and, as a result, cannot be accepted for publication. Francis David wrote, “We need not think alike to love alike,” and we appreciate your help in creating a publication that is grounded in our love for school libraries, not in divisiveness.

Be Personal

Use your own voice. Don’t try to sound like a Famous Writer or a Learned Scholar. Sound like yourself. Authenticity matters.

Formatting Guidelines

We want to attempt to publish this book on a budget of zero dollars or, at the maximum, with the support of a few hundred dollars’ worth of graduate student support. For that to happen, we need your help in publishing according to the document template so we can assemble the book quickly and easily. Thanks!

Due to the complications in securing permissions on such a tight timeline and awkward e-book conversion processes, please:

How Do I Submit?

Type up your essay offline in a word-processing document. Check it against the document template.

Then go to and click on the category to which you wish to submit.

Submissions are open until September 15, 2011.

Who Owns My Content?

You do. However, as part of submission, all entries will agree to be licensed under an Attribution-No Derivs license (, as will the final book. That gives us the right to publish. Note: we may make small corrections to your work to standardize spelling, punctuation, or mechanics.

Who’s Making Money Off Of This?

Nobody. That’s the whole point of this experiment: to see if, by pulling together numerous voices, we can create something for almost no cost and then publish it to others for almost no-cost.

The e-book will be available as a free download for its first three weeks of publication (approximately October 26 to November 16, 2011). This will give us the chance to catch any errors. After that date, the editors will confer. It may be sold as an e-book or a print-on-demand title for cost plus $.99. Should this occur, all proceeds will be donated to the ALA Spectrum Scholars Fund.

Who Can Answer Our Questions?

 We can! Email Kristin Fontichiaro or Buffy Hamilton at schoollibrariesebook [at] umich [dot] edu .