Your Advocacy Stories

We knew you had it in you!  Get inspired by these Everyday Advocacy stories from our very own ALSC members. Cheer your colleagues on, celebrate their successes—and maybe even snap up a few new ideas in the process!


International Park(ing) Day

Sharon McKellar, Oakland Public Library 
Helen Bloch, Oakland (CA) Public Library

On International Park(ing) Day in September 2013, the Oakland Public Library took over 3 parking spaces outside of our Main Library's children's room on a busy city street and created a library parklet. With donations from local shops, we were able to have sod, tables, chairs, plants—and even some plastic flamingos, coffee, and snacks! We did two storytimes, held a Friends of the Public Library mini book sale, and had some children's books as giveaways. With lots of foot traffic going by all day, the parklet was a great success and really helped raise the profile of thelibrary.

Photos can be found on Flickr.

Bike Trailer Bookmobile

Sharon McKellar, Oakland (CA) Public Library 
Helen Bloch, Oakland Public Library

The Oakland Public Library has recently purchased a bike trailer to increase our possibilities for outreach. Functioning like a tiny people-powered bookmobile, the trailer can be pulled by any bicycle and has space to advertise the library and lots of room to carry books! The trailer had its first outing in October 2013 to the Life is Living festival in West Oakland, where librarian Amy Sonnie was able to interact with Oakland residents of all ages, sharing news and information about the library. We can't wait to join in on East Bay Bike Party rides, and bring the bike trailer to many more events around the city!

Photos can be found on Flickr (the first one only usable with credit to photographer as listed on photo itself).


Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL)

Crystal Niedzwiadek, Boulder Public Library

I've been volunteering as the training coordinator for a grassroots organization called Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL) for the past two years. I'm so proud to be a part of this organization. Most of us in the organization are library workers. We host a low-cost annual conference with lots of great training! People can email our group for help accessing early literacy resources in Colorado. We also have a Facebook page. CLEL is a locally focused organization and a really good example of how it can be done and make a difference!


A Reader Is Born!

Abbey Ludlow, Johnson County Library 

Yesterday, I talked to a parent who was convinced I couldn't get her son to pick up a book. I told him I'm a firm believer that there is a book out there for everyone. After chatting with him briefly about his interests (we came up with Sci-Fi), I was able to put two books in his hand and one on hold. He was excited about all three! Then we got him signed up for our Summer Reading Program, got him a free book, and he wrote that his goal was to read six books over the summer! All in all, a great experience for me, and hopefully for him as well!


The Boggs School Library (Detroit)

Jennifer Mann, Youth Librarian, Cromaine Library District

I am a youth librarian at Cromaine District Library in Hartland, MI. Two years ago, I volunteered my time to help do archival research on a documentary, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. The film had its first premiere in June 2013. Grace Lee Boggs is a political activist and amazing woman who did and continues to do great things for Detroit. I couldn’t help but want to continue to be involved in some capacity and offer my skills as a once-teacher-turned-youth-librarian.

The Boggs School in Detroit, MI (known also as the Boggs Educational Center and named after Grace Lee) has opened its doors for the first time in Fall 2013 and is without a library! Recently, I collaborated with some graduate students through the library program at Wayne State University as well as The Library Network (TLN) to assist in helping out the new school library collect books. Gently used and donated books from libraries across southeastern Michigan and have been sending books to drop off points to help start their collection.

The library space won't officially get off the ground until the beginning of 2014, but these great youth librarians (and soon-to-be librarians) have volunteered their time and energy for future storytelling events at the school, including puppetry/dramatic play, songs and creative movement.

New York

No Step too Small: Advocacy Within an Oranization

Mary Fellows, Upper Hudson Library System

This is a story about being an advocate within one's own organization in small ways.

A local library director wrote an article about what a new director should know. As a service organization to public libraries, we do orientations for new directors, and my boss wanted to include this article in our packet of leave-behinds.

When I read the article, two statements jumped out as me as denigrating children's librarians. I was wary of my reaction; I believe that we become respected by being competent and confident, not at all by complaining that we aren't respected. Still, these phrases were jarring. So I checked my reaction with a non-YS colleague, putting the phrases into a different context. She validated my perceptions.

In raising my concern with my boss, I was careful to be clear that I was sure there was no intent to be denigrating, merely inattention to phrasing. In the spirit of never identifying a problem without proposing a remedy, I suggested that we leave out those phrases and note that the edited piece was adapted from our colleague’s article.

Although my boss did not perceive the phrases as I did, he supported my concern. He contacted the writer to ask if we might reword it. The result? We will either use an edited version, or not include the article.

Voicing this concern felt somewhat risky. I do not want to be viewed as hyper-sensitive, nor do I want to reinforce a stereotype I have sometimes encountered of youth services librarians perceiving disrespect where none is present. Fortunately, the approach, my boss’s reasonableness, and the trust he and I have built all paid off. Advocacy on small things builds our reputation and keeps us in practice for advocacy on big things!


Lorain County Literacy Collaborative

Elaine Betting, Youth Services Librarian Supervisor

Now a collaboration between three libraries (Lorain Public Library System, Grafton-Midview Public Library, and Elyria Public Library System), the Lorain County Literacy Collaborative began as a loose grouping of community agencies who were working with young children and wanted to work on getting the word out to parents about the importance of early literacy skills.

After a year of meetings and trying to figure out where we could best serve the community, we came up with the idea of hosting an annual training for non-education-based in-home service providers that worked with families with young children. We decided this was the best way to try and reach some of the families that don't visit the library or that don't have contact with traditional educational intervention specialists. This target group includes Children's Services, mental health workers, Head Start Early Intervention/home visitors, and others in the community (such as nurses with Help Me Grow).

Held in 2011, our first event focused on practical applications of reading and talking to parents about early literacy.  Our second annual event in October 2012 focused on the importance of using play to promote literacy and engage parents.

We also began in May 2012 to promote a literacy awareness campaign in the county called "Literacy Rocks," where child care centers, libraries, individual families, and even local businesses painted and displayed rocks to show their support for raising literacy rates in our county.

Reflecting the change and growth we've experienced, our second annual "Literacy Rocks Lorain County" event took place in May 2013.  This event welcomed new community partners, including the local YMCA, Midway Mall, and local retailers who donated materials for our rock painting.  For some examples of the rocks produced, see our Facebook page.

We are excited to continue our partnership, which evolves every year to include new agencies and members, and to promote more events that support literacy in our county!