In school libraries there can be any combinations of the following: a Certified School Librarian, a Technology Support Specialist(TSS), a Technology Curriculum Instructional Specialist(TCIS), a clerk, avolunteer, or no clear staffing of the library at all. Teachers, in general have their administrators to advocate to, and librarians are the same, but there is no one definitively looking-out-to advocate for school librarians at the higher levels. We, by the nature of our educational system, have to be our own advocates….and our advocacy efforts have to center on gaining advocates FOR us because…
All advocacy needs to come from others – moms/dads, students, colleague teachers and administrators. What we’re seeing around the country is that truly, no one hates libraries – ask anyone about their library and they’ll say good things. The interesting – or ironic - thing about today’s world is that libraries are disappearing because of lack of information to the right people. Our job is to get that information out to the world. So… to whom do we get this information?...
All these people need to hear us - When I ask my school administrators what they needed to know in order to be able to weigh the value of libraries and fight for them, they said: they need to know what the research says about libraries and student achievement & then they need to know what THINGS we do toMake that happen: things like collaborating with our colleagues to make dynamic lessons; providing the instruction students need, and all the rest…. But, the hardest thing to do is to often get that information out there….
Front line workers are often overwhelmed with the day to day of the job… or feel lower on the scale of importance in their system. But we are finding out that it’s important to be able to talk story and that story is often about ourselves and our work – people can’t know what we do unless we tell and show them. And so our first stop is to learn how to Brag…how to get that message out there.
You want to learn how to brag with style and grace. This book was a great start for me. I read it 3 years ago. The author is a Fortune 500 communication consultant who teaches people the business community how to make an impact. The book is filled with advice on how to avoid the common pitfalls such as body language. In pass workshop presentations I’ve introduced the art of writing “elevator speeches” to promote your library program. Klaus calls these speeches “bragalogues” and defines them as “short enthusiastic, continually updated stories that showcase strengths and accomplishments)
1. With the school library crisis in our state on the uprise, it is highly important that we become more focused on getting the message out to our stakeholders, thus we need to become more organized in our approach with ready-made promotional pitches and handout materials. An example of how to become more organized in your advocacy campaign can be taken from the California school libraries’ “Best Sellers” campaign located on their blog at http://bestsellers4schoollibraries.csla.net. School librarians in the state of California have developed a pubic awareness campaign along with a tutorial that is housed on the blogsite:What I got mostly from viewing the site is how the school librarians and their advocates invited the public who already cares passionately about student success, technology integration and readingto bond with them in a strong community based effort to save their local school libraries. This is absolutely an example of how bragalogues / and elevator speeches can applied.
Use the California school librarian’s brochure as an example of promotional material
This is an example of an “elevator speech” using the Common Belief Statements from our new 21st Century Standards. For those of you who are not aware, the Common Beliefs are located on the front to pages of the new Standard’s brochure. There are nine of them. The words in pink are taken from the Common Beliefs.
It works because it’s set at the comfort level of advocating: neighborhood = your friends, neighbors, people you see daily…. Invite them into your library to observe collaborative lessons, research sessions, and ongoing programs of interest.
Action advocacy is all about becoming leaders – lead the curriculum committee, lead your staff in classroom learning 2.0, lead the district accreditation committee, present at content conferences, not just library conferences… and being a leader can include creating those cool programs that bring about big changes on site: “athlete as leaders and readers”; “Million Word Challenge” ; then teach it at conferences and spread the word. BRAND IT and GROW IT until it’s a yearly expectation!
And finally… you’re spreading the word so that administrators, parents/community, classroom teachers and other librarians can understand four key messages…. The biggest one being that a strong school library builds strong students and lifelong learners. Anyone can join in with this kind of advocacy.
Frontline Advocacy for School Librarians
FrontlineAdvocacy for School Libraries: How to Add that Personalized Touch Sabrina Carnesi Virginia Learning4Life Coordinator Crittenden Middle School Newport News, Virginiasabrina.firstname.lastname@example.org a.us
Who is „front line‟ inthe school library?All school library personnelare front line:• Certified School Librarian• Clerk• Volunteers• Technology Support Specialist(TSS)• Technology Curriculum Instructional Specialist(TCIS)
Here‟s what we know…• Legislative advocacy needs to come from others• No one hates libraries• We can provide service & information
To Whom do We Advocate?* Parents / School Alumni Associations / Community Members* Site administrators* Teachers* Other School Librarians• Legislators• School Board Members• Accreditation Agencies• Feeder schools (above and below)* 4 major stakeholders in a school library program – AASL, 2008
Comfort level of advocating?“Who am I to talk to these people?”“I‟m just a clerk”“I‟m the only library person in my school – no one wants to listen to me”“I don‟t want to offend someone”
First Step: learn how to…BRAG!• Great shameless self-promoters know that if they don‟t toot their own horn, no one will: – Brag!: The Art of Tooting your own Horn without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus (2004, ISBN - 9780446692786) – http://networkinghq.wordpress.co m/2010/02/16/how-to-brag-about- yourself-without-turning-others- off/
Second Step: Get Organized1. Generate a brochure or flyer to hand out to your stakeholders2. Create promotional pitches addressed to the stakeholders using the elevator speech or the bragalogue format3. For more professional presentations when you wish to garner help and support for your library program, organize your library data with the annual “School Libraries Count” survey or “A Planning Guide for Empowering Learners”FORWARD
• Excerpt from California School Library Association‟s “Best Sellers” brochure that is applicable to Virginia school librarians at http://bestsellers4schoollibraries.csla.netBACK
SampleSTANDARD 4 ~ AUDIENCE: PARENTS Based on Common Belief #1 – Reading is a window to the world. I know you want your child to have a successful life. And so do I. We both believe that reading is the key to learning for life and developing new understandings. I invite your support for our afterschool book club by allowing your child to participate. (46 words) N. Silcox – Arlington City Schools November 2009BACK
•“School Libraries Count” is an onlinelongitudinal survey available to the publicthis year from January through May of eachyear.•All that participatesreceive a printout oftheir individuallibrary‟s raw data andhow it compares tosimilar librariesthroughout both thestate and nation.
• “A Planning Guide for Empowering Learners” is a program evaluation, planning, implementation and advocacy tool that will ensure school library program planners go beyond the basics to provide goals, priorities, criteria, and general principles for establishing effective library programs.• The guide includes a revised School Library Program Assessment Rubric, a tool that allows school librarians to assess their program on 16 different sets of criteria.”• There is also an online version available which produces bar and pie graphics of your library data:• View these webinars to learn “How the assessment rubric informs your planning process,” “The planning process and getting your school community involved,” and “Using the Planning Guide with „School Libraries Count!‟ personalized results to advocate for your school library program.” http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/guidelinesandstandards/planningguide/planningguideresourc es.cfmBACK
How does this work for you?• Talk to people you see every day: tell them something interesting about your job or your program.• Invite them in: don‟t make the library hands-off.
Third Step: Show don’t Just Tell Make Your Advocacy Campaign one of Action!• Become more involved (if not already) with staff development and with the school improvement planning team!• Don‟t forget to say Thank You to all that are involved in the life of your program!
4 Key Messages of your AdvocacyCampaign Should Be: 1. Students deserve equitable access to libraries. 2. The New Standards provide a blueprint for strong school libraries. 3. School librarians collaborate with others to provide instruction, learning strategies, and practice in using the essential learning skills needed in the 21st century. 4. Students need to develop skills in sharing knowledge and learning with others, both in face-to-face situations and through technology 5. A strong school library = a certified librarian and a full time clerk supported by substantial and consistent funding.