February 17, 2018

Sally Lancaster | Movers & Shakers 2004


The Advocate


Sally Lancaster may be an educator by training, but she knows the value of libraries. As assistant principal of Alternative Programs for the Everett Public Schools, Lancaster led a statewide battle that not only saved the criteria for school libraries in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) but created mandatory standards in the process.

Why is Lancaster such a library advocate? ‘Without a doubt, librarians have taught me the most about education,’ she explains. ‘They are passionate in providing every child access to information. When budget cuts are on the line, they are passionate about how cuts will affect students, not their position or the place.’

Lancaster was president of the Washington Library Media Association last year, when the criteria for library media centers in the state code came up for review. There was a movement to eliminate the criteria because they created too great a financial burden, especially for smaller schools.

‘She started a letter-writing campaign involving school, public, college, and state libraries,’ says Mike Eisenberg, dean of the University of Washington Information School. She also enlisted support from key figures like Terry Bergeson, the state superintendent of public instruction. In the end, the state board ‘was so overwhelmed by the quality and content of the information that they voted to keep the WAC in place and convened a group to update the code to match the new role of library media center,’ Eisenberg says.

Lancaster is quick to deflect any credit, emphasizing that many shared the work. Recently the state has decided to not only rewrite the guidelines but to do so in ‘rules language,’ turning criteria into enforceable guidelines. ‘You won’t be able to just have a room and call it a library,’ Lancaster says. ‘We are saying: ‘here is what defines a library.”

Lancaster became involved with library media centers ‘out of the intersection of my love of reading and love of technology.’ She spent many years as a library media specialist and an instructional technology specialist. Now, she heads ‘the department of doing something different,’ where she creates alternatives for kids, such as distance learning. Wherever her career takes her, it’s clear that Lancaster will remain a library advocate.




Current Position: Assistant Principal of Alternative Programs, Everett Public Schools, WA
Degree: Master of Education, Reading, University of Washington, 1982
Award : 2001 Washington Library Media Supervisor of the Year