Saturday, February 20, 2010

School Library Advocacy in Action

Professor Alice Yucht, in a blog entry today on Alice in InfoLand, says that we need to activate before we advocate. I couldn't agree more.

I was at an "educational summit" today with Jackie Siminitus, CSLA's advocate extraordinaire, where high school and middle students from all over Northern California were scoping out the possibilities for college and beyond. In this picture the badges we are wearing say "Change Agent."

It was a great opportunity to ask them about their school library experiences and ask them and their parents for support for school libraries as the crunch becomes stronger and stronger here in California. Many recounted positive experiences about their school libraries but some have already seen the results of budget cutbacks which adds up to hours lost for their school libraries and reduced availability of a teacher librarian at the site.

We gave them a sheet of information about how school libraries make a difference and encouraged them to write letters to their school newspapers and their local community newspapers, to appear before school boards, to write their legislators and more. We also handed out CSLA's "Best Sellers" campaign information sheet and encouraged them to become library advocates.
Many seemed eager to help other schools have what their own schools benefit from, strong school libraries, and others were ready to become champions for their own benefit to get a strong school library program back at their school site.

It was a very exciting and pro-active day for both Jackie and me.

In her email announcing the blog post Alice said the following: "It's time to stop asking what our Associations are doing FOR us, and make ACTION a part of our own daily activities."

I agree with this as well BUT I also think that if our local and national associations aren't helping in us in every way possible to get our message out there they aren't doing the job we pay our dues to support. As Alice states in her blog we librarians are often not very good at advocating for ourselves. But if we aren't doing the things that make our libraries valuable, exciting, interesting places for our students and staff to be then it's no wonder we are at the end of line when push come to shove and decisions are made about our jobs and our programs. Don't whine, do. But tell your associations when and how you need help. There's nothing wrong with expecting our professional organizations to be at the forefront of advocacy but if we aren't providing the services and programs which prove we are worth it there's very little our associations can do to remedy that.


gwyneth a. jones said...

Great blog!
I agree with you...we pay for associations to fight for us...some of those that's their full time full time job is as a teacher-librarian...action & advocacy or advocacy & action (however you file it) ...that's important, too! we should do our part and we should ALL have programs that we can say are indispensable not just to our schools but our community...looks like you got that in spades!
~Gwyneth Jones

Alice in Infoland said...

My real concern is that too many school librarians use the 'but that's the Association's job' as an excuse for inaction on their own part. We cannot advocate for ourselves. We can, however, make sure that we make our voices heard as activists - spreading the word to those who WILL speak up for us.