New Jersey Becomes First State to Mandate K–12 Information Literacy Curricular Standards

New Jersey school librarians spent years advocating for information literacy standards in the state's K–12 curricula. Their efforts paid off when the governor signed the bill into law this month.

New Jersey has become the first state to require information literacy curriculum standards for K–12 students—and the state’s school librarians played a major role in making that happen.

The push to include information literacy in curricular standards in the state began years ago with a task force consisting of members of school, public, and academic library organizations. The New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) created the original draft of the bill in 2016 after a joint survey by NJLA and the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) documented the need for the legislation.

Eventually, the NJASL took the lead in advocating for the bill. Realizing they needed some expert help, the group hired a legislative consultant and a lobbyist.

“We are all volunteers, all working full-time jobs,” says Ewa Dziedzic-Elliott, NJASL president. “We understood that this was beyond organizing a couple of workshops. This is such a huge initiative. Also, we are not politicians. We don't always understand the intricacies behind closed doors of the state house or state board of education, so we needed specialists to help us navigate that very complex world of politics.”

Mary Moyer, a former school librarian, became the NJASL’s legislative consultant. She attended meetings, emphasizing to NJASL members the importance of public testimony and helping them learn the language to use when speaking to legislators. She worked with the lobbyist to create a coordinated, efficient, and effective approach.

"We had patches of advocacy and they helped us pull the patches together into a concerted effort," she says.

Perhaps most importantly, Moyer developed relationships among the education organizations whose support was vital—the New Jersey Education Association, as well as the state’s administrators. Members of both testified on behalf of the bill. Without that support, Moyer and Dziedzic-Elliott say, it is unlikely the bill would have passed.

On the political side, NJASL members and Moyer met with legislators throughout the years, building bipartisan support for the bill.

“We were very, very active,” says Dziedzic-Elliott. “We used the legislative consultant to guide us through the arm of the legislation to understand the steps and to understand the process. And then we use the lobbyist to coach us [about] who and how and when to approach.…Coaching from them was invaluable for us. We're not politicians.”

The combined efforts proved successful, as Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill into law on January 5.

“Our democracy remains under sustained attack through the proliferation of disinformation that is eroding the role of truth in our political and civic discourse,” Murphy said in a statement at the time. “It is our responsibility to ensure our nation’s future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction.”

While Illinois has a high school requirement for information literacy education, no state had mandated instruction K–12 before now. As part of the standards, lessons will be required to cover the research process and how information is created and produced; critical thinking and using information resources; research methods, including the difference between primary and secondary sources; the difference between facts, points of view, and opinions, accessing peer-reviewed print and digital library resources; and more.

Library media specialists will be part of the team writing the standards with the state Department of Education team. There will be multiple public hearings before the standards are finalized. The hope is that they can be in place for the 2025–26 school year, according to Moyer. She will continue as the NJASL consultant through the process of creating the standards while working on other issues related to school library media specialists in the state.

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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (, @karayorio) is senior news editor at School Library Journal.

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