Messages, Ideas, and Strategies for Communicating the Value of School Library Programs and School Librarians in the 21st Century
This toolkit includes strategies, practical tips and tools, key messages, inspirational stories, and much more to help school librarians promote the many ways they transform teaching and learning within schools, districts, and communities through their library programs.
*Click on the cover at left to download a PDF of the toolkit.
Every one of us knows the important role that advocacy plays in the world. Successful advocates for organizations and programs can turn stakeholders into partners who act for and with the advocates. In the process, stakeholders’ passive support is transformed into educated action, and these stakeholders become advocates, too.
Two organizations local to me in Paducah, Kentucky, come to mind. I know exactly what services they provide and what they want from me as a citizen and a partner. To support their work with children and women who are survivors of abuse, the Child Watch Counseling & Advocacy Center and the Merryman House Domestic Crisis Center need volunteer assistance and monetary donations to help provide safe places and comprehensive support for victims. Theirs are simple and clear messages promoting vital services. So why is it that we as school librarians have such a hard time advocating for the vital service that we provide students and turning our passive stakeholders into active partners?
One reason that advocacy is difficult for some is that it can feel self-serving to advocate for our programs because we fear we’ll be seen as advocating for our jobs. Advocacy is an ongoing process, and not something you engage in only when your job is threatened. An effective advocate is always observing the community and responding by designing and promoting programs and services that will meet its needs. Focus your advocacy on the unique benefits you offer students and teachers, and the rest will come along naturally.
The development of this toolkit aligns perfectly with AASL’s Strategic Plan, approved by the Board of Directors in June 2014, and helps to meet our goal of becoming a stronger voice for school librarians and the profession. That voice is strengthened when school library professionals across the country can present to stakeholders a consistent message about how school librarians and school library programs transform learning.
This toolkit will help you get started effectively promoting what you and your program offer students and your community. Published as a web-based toolkit, many of the tools and resources referenced within are hyperlinked and freely accessible online. In addition, this toolkit includes an interactive component through the commenting feature on this toolkit landing page. We hope you will contribute your own resources, tools, templates, and samples. Use this venue to share your advocacy success stories with your peers and help inspire and strengthen one another.
We know that we provide a vital service to our students, teaching them lifelong skills that propel them into their futures as successful adults, but we have to reach out and demonstrate that fact! We have to stop sitting back, hoping that someone will notice! I know promoting our work and our school library programs is a stretch for some of us, but if we don’t stand up for those kids, who will?
AASL President, 2014–2015
Too Good Not to Share
Keep this idea exchange going and share your stories, tools, literature, events, or other resources with your colleagues in the comments below!