Washington Coalition for School Libraries and Information Technology (WCS-Lit) www.fundourfuturewashington.org Advocacy Primer Lisa Layera Brunkan Denette Hill Susan McBurney These materials are made available through a Creative Commons License
“ It’s not enough for a cause to be just. Knowing the policy, understanding the political terrain and building relationships have to be part of the advocacy effort in order for it to be successful.”
Lisa Brown, WA State Senate Majority Leader
Commenting on the Coalition’s success,
two weeks after the session ended
The current library landscape
“ Endangered species”
“ On the way to extinction”
“ Draconian cuts”
An Approach Based on Survival Advocating to win and promoting policies with teeth
Funding: Permanent or stop-gap
Vision: Supporting long-range planning efforts
Code: Ensuring your survival
The Political Terrain Argument Objection Libraries matter. Get in line. “ Lobby the bill, not the issue.” - Political insider for 40 years The librarian is the advocate. Special interest “ Tell them not to send librarians.” - Committee chair, via top advisor Libraries need more money. It’s a ‘local decision’. It’s the state and Fed’s failure to sufficiently fund it. Libraries should be funded. It’s an extra, an enhancement, a luxury in these economic times. “Where would you want us to cut?”
An Approach Based on Survival 20 th Century 21 st Century Libraries matter
How do libraries save or make the state money?
Librarian as the advocate Stakeholders as the advocates. Thousands, representing every sector. Library as an elective, an enhancement Library as a 21 st Century classroom/modality. A fixed cost . Classical literacy Literacy as 21 st century skills w/ libraries that help bridge the digital and print divide.
Stakeholders Decision Makers Tools Wisdom
Wisdom = Avoiding Pitfalls
STAKEHOLDERS Inform and empower vs. communicating only to ask for something ($$$ or canned/scripted actions).
DECISION MAKERS Empathy, respect, graciousness.
TOOLS Use judiciously or risk impotence.
Who are your stakeholders? Ours included:
Higher Education Community
District and Building Administration
Community Leaders and Elected Officials
State and National Organizations (PTA, Teachers’ Unions, AAUW, Education Advocates)
The Citizens’ Mandate Grassroots mobilization as THE key to legislative results
Form a Coalition
Online petition – who thinks this matters ?
Calls, emails, visits to legislators, the Governor, and federal leaders
Website and Blog
How to get a seat at the table
Organize or disappear.
Show up! The Flotilla Strategy: Teams of 3-4 showing up every week.
Tell your story . Personal stories, not canned messages.
“ My reference books are so old that when my students do their state-required social studies project they won’t know that Mt. St. Helens has blown her top. ” - a Spokane teacher-librarian
Know your ask, know your case, be able to show it. “What is it you want the state to do?”
Provide data, not anecdotes.
Provide standards, not anecdotes.
Provide comparative statistics, rankings, and historical trend analyses, not philosophical arguments.
Make a realistic and strategic ask, framed for consumption, not tabling or dying in committee.
LISTEN & OBSERVE: let the legislators tell you how to frame the issue.
Data is Crucial!
21 st Century Data Collection and Dissemination
Measuring performance: using metrics to initiate change
Checkbox on all standardized tests (presence of full-time, certified librarian)
State of Affairs : the importance of the brief
Staffing: certified vs. para-professional
Collection copyright average
Track book attrition and test scores in schools with less than 1.0
Socio-economic measurements that matter (free and reduced lunch, minority students)
Comparative ranking: where does your state stand?
Trail of the cuts : baselines matter for policy
Every state library association should designate someone to receive reports of cuts, coordinate with AASL/ALA.
Effective data: the Oregon numbers
Effective Data: The Oregon Numbers
Grassroots Effectiveness vs. Mass Noise GRASSROOTS EFFECTIVENESS MASS NOISE The people’s voice : For each librarian, 3 stakeholders. Librarians = special interest Personal emails and letters invite engagement . Mass communications will be ignored. Personal stories Canned messages Personal interactions (visits, attending meetings) bring the effort to life and create the mandate. Mass actions w/o personal follow-up are ineffective.
“ I believe keeping an active library and librarian in the public schools is as important as any other primary education role. We must teach our children to do research and explore on their own. What better resource is there than a library and librarian to provide a safe and positive environment for discovery of interests and gifts of knowledge. Our competitive advantage in the United States is clearly our ability to be creative and inventive of new technologies, new business processes, new music, new fashion, new dance, new ways of looking at old things... It is in our culture and we cannot lose this ability. Research and Development is our Thing! Libraries plant and nourish this seed in our children.”
CEO - Inland Imaging Business Associates
Effective Talking Points
“ I had the pleasure of presenting Dr. Irwin "Ernie" Rose with the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Washington State University in 2004. Dr. Rose, a Nobel Laureate and a graduate of Lewis & Clark High School in Spokane, told me that much of what he learned in high school, he learned among the stacks of the library. This generation of children deserves the same opportunity.”
Chris Marr, WA State Senator
“ Clearly, we are not doing our job as a society in preparing our sons and daughters to qualify for the jobs that I am able to create. I believe that the library system in our public schools could contribute to better preparing our children for success in a global economy. I also believe that we have under-emphasized literacy and language as a priority in preparing our children for good jobs. The primary characteristics I am looking for are critical thinking, and the ability to read, write, and speak well. In my experience, the best critical thinkers, with the best communication skills, are those who read frequently and passionately. Without excellent libraries and librarians, our children will not have access or guidance to help them find a passion for words, concepts, and the worldly attitudes that will make them employable by companies like mine.
We need more, better, well-funded, and well-staffed, libraries.”
Carl Albrecht, Principal, The Arnold Group.
“ As school children learn to read and research, we lay the groundwork for future participation in a world representing all cultures and communities. In this way, school libraries strike at the very heart of democracy by providing opportunities for giving voice and equal choice to all children.'
Dr. Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet
President of Antioch University-Seattle
Business recruitment and retention:
A community/state’s calling card
“ I've spent my career in quality of life issues, having served three governors as Economic Development Commissioner and chairing the state's Quality of Life task force.
In all the hearings I did across the state, large and small communities, the singular most important issue is the quality of our schools. We simply will not succeed in a world economy, where our product will never be the least expensive, if we don't build knowledge-based product.
I believe strongly that lowering our library capacity to part time service sends the wrong message to our children, our parents, our targeted companies and "family friendly" future employers. They simply will go where they know children are being mentored to read, research, problem solve…follow their personal "thrill of the hunt". A librarian is person who unlocks and nurtures this adventure. It is a full time job involving research, training and commitment. ”
Don Barbieri, Chairman, Red Lion Corporation.
Information literacy and critical thinking skills cannot be remediated.
“ At Gonzaga University, we see incoming students from school districts throughout the western United States (including Hawaii and Alaska) and other locations in the country and the world. Even though all our students are theoretically ‘prepared for college’, it is clear that students coming from resource-poor districts are at a disadvantage compared to students from resource-rich ones, and that disadvantage persists through their four years here. Even smart, motivated students will struggle at the college level if they do not arrive with the thinking and learning skills they need to succeed. I am very concerned that the reduction of school library programs will decrease our students' ability to succeed in college, or whatever other post-secondary pursuits they choose.”
Dr. David Boose, Professor of Biology
“ We are in the business of healthcare services and employ over 700 healthcare workers in the state of Washington. Our healthcare providers, at all levels in the organization, learn continuously about new healthcare technology, treatments, and new regulations. In our business those with the skills to use various information resources to improve their knowledge independently in addition to formal, structured education and training, are the true stars. They are the librarians, teachers and leaders in our own organization. We must focus on building these skills early in our children’s education.”
Jon Copeland Stephen P. Duvoisin
CEO Inland Imaging Business Associates CEO Inland Imaging Investments
It’s a fallacy to believe the institution will be rendered obsolete.
“ It's perhaps natural to believe that in this age of web-based information, libraries and librarians are going the way of the dodo, or at least are becoming a luxury that we can no longer afford. Exactly the opposite is true.
In the print world, the ratio of authoritative information to garbage was relatively favorable, and it was relatively straightforward to differentiate one from the other. The web, however, is an undifferentiated jumble of fact and fiction- of authoritative information and garbage. Learning how to intelligently navigate this mess is a critical life skill that every student must learn. Librarians are information professionals- the people best equipped to impart this knowledge. Libraries are repositories of authoritative information, as well as sources of knowledge about how to critically evaluate information.
We must stop the erosion of Washington's school libraries. ”
Dr. Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair
University of Washington
Member, National Academy of Engineering
Fellow, American Academy of Arts & Sciences
20 th Century : libraries are considered an ‘enhancement’ and ‘local’ program.
21 st Century : libraries are 21 st century classrooms that impart the skills necessary to survive, compete, and flourish in the information age.
“ This idea that libraries are extra is really a fallacy. I think the libraries are a fundamental foundation of a good education.”
Dave Quall, WA State Representative
Chair of the House Education Committee
Top 10 To-Dos “ The Spokane parents gave people around the state an opportunity to say, 'Yes, this is important.’ That is special—not unique—but it's unusual, because here's a couple of concerned parents who are doing more than writing or emailing. They're expressing views clearly and forcefully and providing a website so that others who agree can express their views as well.” -Skip Priest, WA State Representative, to the LA Times
“ You and I both agree that libraries are important and an essential part of schools. I'm not a member of the education committee, but if this bill makes it to the Senate floor, I plan to support it.”
-WA State Senator in response to an email seeking commitment
“ I think we can do the funding you need... without passing a bill. This allows the funding to go out this year and the task force to complete their work over the summer without another mandate to unwind. I think everyone gets what they need.”
-Finance Chair on the eve of bills dying
Be a friend instead of a foe. How?
Be gracious instead of complaining.
Be appreciative instead of demanding.
“ At the end of the legislative session what matters most is how you’re remembered. ” -Olympia insider
“ It was wonderfully reaffirming for me to witness positive energy vibrating at such a high frequency that it could only produce positive results.”
Provide a concrete request and substantive documentation laying out the case.
It needs to be data-rich, efficient, compelling, and framed in policy context.
“ All those other folks that want inclusion are vying for dollars, so you need to really hone your arguments and stay on message. You have a great start but the battle is going to get bloody as more groups weigh in with their requests, yeah, even demands for funding. Some will cite laws or regulations that, they will claim, require they be funded, others will appeal to emotions or multiple other reasons . . . it will not be pretty or nice. So, come prepared to fight and watch your back.”
-Legislative Aide after the session ended on what would lie ahead on the road to seeking permanent funding
As part of rebranding 21 st century libraries, harness every emerging technology, and employ all mediums, to make yourself indispensible.
Plan to be in it for the long haul, and find financial supporters.
“ Give yourselves a collective standing ovation for having the courage to go after your vision with a vengeance and never look back!”
-Legislative Aide to a high-ranking member of the state legislature
Simple tips that lead to success
It’s all about the decision makers.
Legislators, the governor, and top agency leaders are the only people that can bring about change. They are the real champions. Advocates can only put an issue on the table. Invite legislators to address your meetings – it’s mutually beneficial.
Help the press connect the dots. Suggest key people to interview and provide the contact information. A quote from a decision-maker regarding libraries is one of the most important outcomes you can facilitate.
Provide stakeholders with everything they need to take action.
Links, email addresses, phone numbers and background info
Envision a new reality
“ We all need to stand together, for our state and for others; our dream is that Washington develops a blueprint in the next year for the most 21st Century, the most visionary, and the most fully-funded school library programs in the country.”
Spokane Moms, the last day of the 2008 session
Less than 3 months later, WA State’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), presented the following proposals:
Libraries for the 21 st Century
Technology for 21 st Century Teaching and Learning