Discover How to Take Your School Library beyond a Safe Haven in the Jan/Feb 2020 Issue

When school libraries are safe spaces, we model the Include Shared Foundation, and school libraries can transform their school communities as learners feel not just safe, but also seen, included, respected, and appreciated.

While the many ways school libraries serve as safe spaces could never fit inside the pages of one magazine issue, the January/February contributing authors give us examples and inspiration. Even more importantly, they challenge us to think deeply about what makes a school library a safe space for all learners.

  • Lisa Gay-Milliken and Jeff DiScala share the importance of going beyond book displays to truly support LGBTQ students.
  • Barbara Gabaldon demonstrates how valuing student diversity, both cultural and linguistic, creates libraries that go beyond traditional ideas about school libraries.
  • Keungsuk Sexton writes about how kindness and inclusion can combine with social justice and culturally relevant teaching to create empowered learners.
  • Kay Waitman highlights the diverse linguistic strengths of her students and families.
  • Paula Wittmann and Nancy Fisher-Allison share strategies for supporting and valuing all learners, including Muslim students, students with social-emotional challenges, and students with autism spectrum disorder.
  • Elizabeth Pelayo supports students with adverse childhood experiences through the lens of her school becoming trauma-informed.
  • Melanie Toran shows us how the standards guide us in supporting LGBTQ+ students.

Because there really are too many wonderful ideas to fit inside the pages of one issue, don’t forget to check out the online exclusives:

  • Mary E. Bannister listens to her LGBTQ+ students and families and tells us about the changes she has implemented as a result.
  • Marianne Fitzgerald, Donna Mignardi, Jennifer Sturge, and Sandy Walker align the AASL Standards with Social Justice Standards, showing us the power of extending safe spaces into the curriculum.

The authors in this issue combine theory, practice, innovation, and encouragement. I hope you will find their examples and their philosophies as inspirational as I did.

About the Guest Editor

Rachel Altobelli lives with her wife in Albuquerque, NM, where she is the director of library services and instructional materials at the Albuquerque Public Schools. Her work has appeared in Knowledge Quest, American Libraries, the KQ website, and the School Library Journal website. Rachel currently serves as a member of this year’s AASL Presidential Initiative Task Force, which is focusing on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. She has served on several other AASL committees and is active in her state association. She was privileged to be the AASL member guide for the group of ALA Emerging Leaders who created Defending Intellectual Freedom: LGBTQ+ Materials in School Libraries. She is passionate about advocating for the representation of all students in school library collections.

Read her Guest Editor Column, “Going beyond School Libraries as Safe Havens.”

Knowledge Quest, Volume 48, No. 3 – Going Beyond School Libraries as Safe Havens


Going beyond Book Displays: Providing Safe Spaces for LGBTQ Youth
Lisa Gay-Milliken and Jeffrey DiScala

Regard More, Not Regard Less: Welcoming All to the Sanctuary of the School Library
Barbara Gabaldon

Safe Spaces beyond the Library’s Four Walls
Keungsuk Sexton

Student Diversity Inspires Special “Our Languages” Collection
Kay Waitman

Intentionally Creating a Safe Space for All: The School Library as Refuge
Paula Wittmann and Nancy Fisher-Allison

Trauma-Informed School Libraries: A Space for All
Elizabeth Pelayo

Not Your Mother’s School Library
Melanie A. Toran

Online Exclusives

School Library as a Safe Harbor for LGBTQ Students and Families
Mary E. Bannister

School Libraries and Social Justice Education: Inquiring, Including, Collaborating, Curating, Engaging, and Exploring for Change
Marianne Fitzgerald, Donna Mignardi, Jennifer Sturge, and Sandy Walker


CBC Column
Behold the Gatekeepers: Unlocking an Equal and Diverse Library
Tiffany Rose


President’s Column
Creating Opportunities for Inclusion in School Libraries and AASL
Mary Keeling

Guest Editor Column
Going beyond School Libraries as Safe Havens
Rachel Altobelli

Author: Rachel Altobelli

Categories: KQ Content

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1 reply

  1. Thank you for sharing these tips to make school libraries a better place of learning. I will pass on your suggestion to Chula Vista elementary school district to make it a better place for the students for better learning. Thank you once again for this blog post. Cheers!!!

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