If knowledge is in fact power, then, school librarians ought to be the most powerful group in the nation. We are the keepers of the books. We are the guardians of the resources. We are super heroes. We are powerful.
Why, then, are we in the midst of fighting what seems in some cases to be an up-hill battle to have our voices heard? Why are we hearing more often of states and local schools petitioning for waivers to remove certified professionals from their school libraries? Many school librarians want to advocate for their position within their district. They want to fight for their students to have a professional assist them with research techniques, locate appropriate reading material, and connect them globally. Many school librarians also do not know where to begin on the road to advocacy, or they fear the reprimand that will follow suit.
Begin small. After all, Ant-man is tiny, but he’s still powerful.
1. AASL Resources for Advocacy
AASL provides a wealth of resources to help one build their knowledge base of advocacy for school libraries. Begin by reading through some of the brochures and infographics provided. Print out a few. Email copies to your building principals, administrative leaders, and school board members. An infographic can’t hurt. It is, in fact, simply information! These simple graphics provide power to anyone’s advocacy journey.
2. Know Your Legislation
On December 10, 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law. Are you confused about local and national legislation that could be affecting your school library program? Me, too. To keep track of all of the changes to the laws and AASL’s position, visit their Legislation page. If you’re an insomniac and would like to read the 449 page PDF, you can find it on the U.S. Department of Education’s website. I just learned that ESSA originated in 1965!
September was Take Your Legislator to School Month, but it isn’t too late to invite your local elected officials to visit your school library. Ask them to read to a class or two. I often ask if they’ll read one of the books nominated for a state award and record them. It’s a great way to allow your legislator into your world for a moment while advocating for your programs.
3. Attend a Workshop
Did you know that AASL provides ESSA Workshops? Many states already have dates set. The Calendar of Events is mid-way down the page. Many states are also holding ESSA Listening Forums. Our local state association has encouraged members to attend. If you are unable to get your name on the docket, being present speaks volumes.
When advocating for your position, program, or your students, remember that you are not alone. We are all on the same team. After all, Ant-man joins the Avengers from time to time. School librarians are powerful, but why advocate alone? Knowledge is power, and we have all the knowledge in the world.
Author: Ashley Cooksey
Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.