The Truth About School Library Advocacy
Today, I am talking about the latter, the boots, or super cute booties, on-the-ground librarians who are most likely doing advocacy work without even realizing it. Because, while we need those who are doing the legislative work at the national, state, and local levels, the Truth is that the most important library advocacy starts with changing the culture at the school level. And, that doesn’t happen when laws are changed, or new or additional funding streams are found, it happens from within. See, it’s not always about the money honey!
The TRUTH is that the most important library advocacy starts with changing the culture at the school level!
So, how do you, the K-12 school librarian become an advocate?
Well, if you were ever a classroom teacher and relied on shutting your doors and then doing your thing...that is NOT an effective advocacy method! In fact, quite the opposite is true here. To be an advocate, you want those doors wide open and kids yelling into the hallway, come check out what we’re doing. Okay, you probably don’t kids literally shouting into the halls, but metaphorically it works 😁
To change the culture around your school library program, you first have to be willing to share what you are doing with just about anyone who will listen. Because unless you can change the deep-seated stereotype of libraries and librarians that many people have, you may find yourself struggling to get people to change their thinking. You have to push back against what people think they know about school libraries.
What they think about:
Getting visible and changing your culture are the cornerstones of strong library advocacy. You need both to be successful in getting out there and changing minds. You can grab a copy of my FREE School Librarian Advocacy Check List to get started on the advocacy process.
What does school library advocacy look like?
First, it means changing your own mind about what advocacy looks like. It does not mean you have to board a bus and march at the statehouse, although that works too. It does mean that you need to take the time to evaluate what you are doing currently and consider things from an advocacy lens if you are not already doing so. Every interaction you have chips away at or adds a block to someone's existing stereotype of a school librarian.
Second, it means sharing what you do. That can be by inviting people in. It can be a bulletin board of your monthly data. It can be offering the library as a space where social functions are held. It could just be making more of an effort to get teachers working in your space. Especially as more and more students have laptops, so research sometimes happens behind those closed doors I mentioned earlier, without the librarian as the research expert to support instruction.
If you want a quick and easy way to collect data for your library program, you can download the FREE Library Data Collection tool from my TPT store.
School library advocacy at the school level is essential. But, it doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Pick a few things you want to consciously do to make your space visible or change the culture of your program and see if you start changing some minds along the way as well!
Don’t forget to grab the two FREE resources that will help you with your library advocacy!
Hi! I'm Sarah, a school librarian and former middle school English teacher. I empower school librarians to use branding and marketing skills in order to build culture, get visible and advocate for their library.