If you’re looking for ways to work with other library personnel in your school board or district to raise the visibility of your library programs or to have a comprehensive vision of what your library programs should encompass, you may want to watch the two films at the bottom of this post that are based on Christie Kaaland’s suggestions for successful school library advocacy. Kaaland is one of the founders of SchoolLibraryAdvocacy.org. These films were created for one of the QSLiN bronze level badges based on CLA’s standards for school libraries: Advancing the Learning Community – District Administration and Consultant Collaborative Role. (You can have a look at these badges by signing up at QSLiN Digital Badging.)
The first film talks about having a school board wide plan of action and vision statement; it also gives pointers on who might participate and what the contents might be. For example, it is preferable that the plan of action and vision statement focuses on student achievement and is specific to the school board, avoiding general statements. This film also looks at the best times to promote the school library program and targeting your message to important stakeholders. Finally, suggestions are made on how to get just the right tone in your vision statement and plan of action.
The second film concentrates on “visibility and vigilance.” It begins by suggesting a variety of ways that library personnel can make important stakeholders aware of school library programs both informally and formally, for example, attending school events, keeping the library open on evenings when parents come to meet teachers, and where possible, participating on school board committees. These allow for opportunities to interact and let people know the achievements of your libraries. The film also focuses on virtual spaces and the best ways to have a positive image online. Examples of these are posting the library vision statement on all school board library websites and, where possible, on the school board’s website. You might display photos or avatars of library personnel and highlight cutting edge activities in libraries in your board.
Vigilance involves the realization that maintaining the visibility of school library programs is an ongoing task, as greater visibility can mean the difference between increased or decreased funding. If your library programs are well promoted, students and teachers will be more aware of them and use them, and potentially, they are less likely to be cut.
Through collaboration, library personnel in your school board or district can envision exciting school library programs together and work to advance the learning community, making it an engaging one for students and teachers. Those important stakeholders will want to take notice of the diverse ways that school libraries can contribute to student success.