April is School Library Month (SLM). The BACC co-bloggers will join this effort this month and share information and perspectives on advocating for the essential role of school librarians and libraries in education.
The American Association of School Librarians has a Web site devoted to providing marketing and promotional materials for SLM. Actress Julianne Moore provided a public service announcement to kick off this annual advocacy campaign. What I especially appreciate about AASL’s SLM effort is that it supports three premises of advocacy that I have been reminded of in an advocacy course in which I have been participating this spring. (See end of this post.)
- Advocacy is not an emergency response.
- Advocacy is a planned and deliberate strategy.
- To be successful, it must be sustained effort over time.
Through this annual national effort, our association supports the on-going advocacy work of site-level librarians. To be effective and sustained, advocacy must be simultaneously local and global. To this national campaign, building-level librarians are called upon to provide site-specific examples of how their work positively impacts teachers’ teaching and students’ learning and contributes to strengthening literacy in our communities.
Another example of a more global advocacy campaign is “Principals Know: School Librarians Are the Heart of the School,” a crowd-sourced video funded by a grant from Demco in which principals share their first-hand experiences of the work of exemplary school librarians. This effort shows how important it is to consider the authority of advocates and who they have the power to influence. The intended decision-maker audience must be able to listen to and act on messages from “influencers” who have their respect – in the case of this video, principals.
Research shows that “Kids + School Libraries = Learning.” The image above is a license plate from an advocacy campaign in which I participated more than a decade ago. The simplicity of the message was one of its strengths. Today, I wonder if the school librarians who engaged in this campaign could have done something more to prevail against the economic downturn that ended up undermining the health of school librarianship in that state.
For the past seven weeks, I have been participating in a MOOC called “Library Advocacy Unshushed: Values, Evidence, Action.” The course was sponsored by the University of Toronto iSchool, the Canadian Library Association, and the American Library Association. Participants from both countries and from around the world have been meeting online to listen to video presentations by experts in the field of advocacy, review resources, and discuss the course content. Our final assignment was to write 500 to 600 words about how we will use our course learning in the real world of our library work. I will share my assignment on Thursday.
Image: School Library License Plate, Marketing Tool, Arizona, circa 2000