Three Quick and Easy Ways to Advocate for Your School Library Program

Has advocacy for your program been moved to the back burner while you deal with other, more pressing issues?  The following advocacy strategies can be easily and quickly replicated.  Why not try one this week?

1.  Ask students to recommend books they would like to have added to the library’s collection.  This can be a simple Google Doc Form that you link to on your website (examples: The Unquiet Library , Blythewood Middle School , North Andover Public Schools , Rock Creek School Library) or it can be a sign on the Circulation Desk with slips of paper (example:Academy of Personalized Learning’s Please Buy This Book ), pencils, and a box where completed forms are inserted.

By requesting student input, you are reinforcing that the library is THEIR library.  If you purchase a book based on a student recommendation, why not place a book plate in the front of that book identifying the student?

2.  Contact parents.  As a classroom teacher I dreaded most of the phone calls I had to make to parents.  To ease the stress of sharing problems with parents, I began to make one positive phone call each week.  What a difference that one phone call made!

Why not call parents when

  • a student seems to be enjoying a research project he/she is working on?
  • a student has participated in a literacy program?
  • a student has participated in one of your library’s programs (perhaps he/she won a contest you sponsored)?
  • a student has been helpful to other students in the library?
  • a student has excelled in a program outside of the library? (As an educator, I take pride when any of our school’s students is successful.)

Try a positive phone call once, and you will be hooked! Read Leigh Ann Jones’ blog post “How to make a parent’s day AND advocate for your library in one simple step” for inspiration.

3.  Show administrators what is happening in your library. Keep a camera at your Circulation Desk and use it!  Snap pictures of students reading, researching, using the library’s online catalog, etc. Compose a quick email to your principal and attach a photo.  Because he/she more than likely has a full inbox, use a catchy phrase in the subject line.  (Our school mascot is the bulldog, so my subject line will read “Bragging ’bout Bulldogs!” Yes, that’s intentional slang usage; love alliteration!)

Don’t just stop with pictures of students.  Pull out that camera and capture teachers interacting with students in the library.  When you compose the email to your principal bragging on the teacher, why not CC the teacher?  Imagine how warm and fuzzy that teacher is going to feel (and rightfully so!) about the library when he/she opens that email?

Advocacy:  don’t leave your library without it.