In June, talk on the South Carolina Association of School Librarians listserv focused on the need for school library program advocacy. In somes states, library media specialist jobs are being eliminated in tight budgets. Today, YALSA’s podcast on Teens & School Libraries focuses on interviews with media specialists in Michigan and Massachusetts.
In YALSA’s Podcast #53, Maureen Ambrosino of the Central Massachusetts Regional Library System interviews Kathy Lowe, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts School Library Association. Interestingly, Lowe states, “It really comes down to a principal in a building within a district and whether or not that principal perceives the school library program as having value and if they do, and if they understand the positive impact on students and teachers of having a professionally staffed and up-to-date library then they will support that. It’s a priority that any prinicpal has to decide.”
How can your principal know the value your program adds to the school if you don’t tell him? Our job as school library media specialists must include advocacy. Already overwhelmed by all the roles they must fill, many media specialists have put advocacy for their library program on the back burner. If we don’t advocate for ourselves, no one will, so this year, plan on making your presence known! Here are some resources to help you get started:
Welcome to the School Library Campaign AASL site
School Libraries Work! The 2008 edition of Scholastic’s Research Foundation Paper
Research: Making the Case Part of a site started by 3 moms in the state of Washington in response to hearing that school librarians’ hours were being cut
Advocacy: The Teacher Librarian as Advocate This online course offered by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson defines advocacy and provides many links to sites to help you in planning your advocacy program.
The Principal’s Manual for the School Library Media Program A two page guide to evaluating a school library media program produced by AASL
School Library Systems Advocacy Toolkit Although created for New York, this site has many suggestions that all library media specialists can use.
Advocacy Toolkit for School Library Media Specialists The Colorado Library Consortium has compiled several resources, arranged by category: Learning to be an Advocate, Usable PowerPoint Presentations, Facts and Stats, Brochures, and Quicktime Video.
California’s Best Seller Campaign for Strong School Libraries This California School Library Association’s site includes several useful sections and forms: The Message, What is a Strong School Library? (identifies 5 components), Identifying “Best Sellers,” “Strong School Libraries Build Strong Students and Lifelong Learners” (a flyer you can access from the home page – scroll down to “Identifying and Inviting ‘Best Sellers'” ), and Research and Other Resources (an annotated list with hyperlinks) found at the bottom of The Message page.
We can incorporate research that proves the efficacy of school library programs in increasing student achievement, but we must begin to collect our own evidence. Circulation statistics, class visits, and tallying individual student visits show our media centers and their resources are being used, but the best evidence is proof that our programs are making a difference. How can we show that learning is taking place?
- use programs such as TRAILS to track the improving information literacy skills of our students
- ask teachers who have successfully collaborated with us to provide a “testimonial”
- ask students to complete exit slips after you have taught a skill
- maintain portfolios of lessons taught and evidence such as projects completed in conjunction with the lessons
- sponsor a “What My Library Means to Me” contest
This is by no means an exhaustive list! Please help by adding your suggestions.
Image from cindiann http://www.flickr.com/photos/trucolorsfly/352573802/in/pool-749214@N22