It is sad when you often hear of budget cuts and school library programs slashed. Why do schools cut these valuable programs? Is it because people see librarians and libraries as antiquated in a world of e-books and the Internet? Is it because people see librarians as expendable? Some people fail to see the important role that the certified school media specialist can play in student success.
How can librarians advocate for themselves and their libraries? Librarians must maintain an active presence in their schools. When we enter the field, we must not be content with staying in the library and managing the resource collection, but rather demonstrate our value to the school community. We can do this by emphasizing the connection between our resources and student success, and showing not just telling.
The best way that we can encourage library advocacy is by maintaining a strong presence in the greater school community both in person and online through social media. The first step to advocacy is in making people aware that we are here and keeping them inform on what we have to offer in resources, the most important of which is us, the certified teacher librarians. We must actively seek out collaboration with teachers and establish our presence on decision making committees in the school. We must teach information literacy skills such as how to research and evaluate sources to our students.
We must also increase awareness where our school and greater community members are. This means maintaining an active presence on the Internet: through social media and on the school library’s webpage. This will demonstrate our relevance in the digital age and show parents and administrators what we do inside and outside the library to help student success.
We can advocate for ourselves and our librarians by demonstrating evidence of student success: statistics and examples of students who meet the standards through information literacy learned in the library. However, the best advocates for the school library are the community members whose lives have been positively impacted: teachers, staff, and students. Like Carolyn Foote once said in a School Library Journal article, if you already have a support network in place, it will be easier to demonstrate support when in need. If we demonstrate our value to the community, the community will be an additional advocate for us.
Foote, C. (2010, August). “Everyday Advocacy.” School Library Journal.
Here I’m attaching a podcast in which I’d advocate for school libraries. In an advocacy podcast for a real school, I might include a few testimonials from students or staff, if possible.
<a href=”http://aelafleur.podbean.com/mf/play/x7t7c/podcast_library_advocacy.mp3″>Listen to this episode</a>