Building True Advocacy for School Libraries
If you haven't done so already, take some time to read Debra Kay Logan's article, "Putting Students First" in the January/February issue of American Libraries. This one is worth your time, attention, and discussion.
Logan passionately pursues an essential question, "When we talk about advocating for school libraries, what do we truly mean?" Moreover, she urges readers to think about this question from administrative and budgetary viewpoints. Logan states, "School libraries are traditionally seen as rooms with resources, with school librarians viewed as keepers of materials. Under this pretense, it's no wonder that libraries and librarians are sometimes thought of as expendable."
So, what do we do to effectively advocate for school libraries? Logan sums up our strategy by stating that we need to:
1.) Change the nature of our advocacy messages
"To become effective advocates, our profession must shift the focus of our messages from speaking out about school libraries to promoting and supporting student learning and achievement. Student success is the business of schools. Student learning is at the core of meaningful advocacy messages."
"We need to have stakeholders advocate for them, and it is our job to build this stakeholder support."
2.) Motivate stakeholders to advocate
"When research evidence is presented in isolation, listeners inevitably question the validity of research. Instead of simply sharing research studies, school librarians need to 'mash up' research findings with what we know about our specific programs."
3.) Mash up the data
"To start, we need to clearly and consistently articulate and highlight the research showing the connections between strong school library programs and student learning and success. This forms a firm foundation for stakeholder advocacy."
"Next, document the connection between research in the library and reading and writing standards as an integral part of the weekly lesson plans."
"When crafting an advocacy message, focus on specific and essential student needs..."
"Share evidence that ties research findings with what is happening in your school."
4.) Remember that it's all about the students
"All along we have known that school libraries play a critical and unique part in helping schools achieve their goals for students. However, our messages have sounded like school libraries and librarians are an ends, not means. It's time to adjust these messages and become advocates for students and student learning."
We want to know what you think of Logan's article. Post your comment here, on our blog. In what ways have you promoted your school library? Have you built stakeholder support? If so, how? Have you experienced success with your advocacy efforts?
Logan, Debra Kay. "Putting students first: we must change the focus of our messages from school libraries to student learning and achievement." American Libraries 39.1-2 (Jan-Feb 2008): 56(4). Professional Collection. Gale. MINITEX. 25 Jan. 2008 http://find.galegroup.com.proxy.elm4you.org/itx/start.do?prodId=SPJ.SP00.