Advocacy. How often do you think about how to advocate for your school library? How often do you read blogs, articles, and essays published with ideas on how and why to advocate for your program? It is an almost constant thought in my mind.
Will I receive funds this year?
What laws protect my school library program?
How can I safely advocate for my school library program?
How can I get student/parent/teacher/administrator buy-in for the school library program?
How? How? How?
Share your calendar with your faculty and staff. It can be a paper copy or digital. This will inform everyone of your program’s activities, library events, and scheduled school functions. Not only that, but sharing your calendar can invite collaboration. Add in your planned events, national events, and dates that coincide with pre-organized events, such as Hour of Code, National Game and Puzzle Month, School Library Month, and more. Have a pamphlet or digital copy available at Open House to share with your local stakeholders. Parents and community members may have some feedback or offer to come speak or attend an event.
2. Wear a T-shirt
I realize that t-shirts are not the most teacher-appropriate attire; however, if they relate to your program or an activity taking place in your school library…why not? For Hour of Code week last year, the computer lab teacher and I made and wore shirts each day inspired by coding and computer science. One of our favorite shirts was iTeach in binary. Each and every time I wear it, someone will stop me to ask what all of the numbers mean. I’m able to share about our program and advertise events just by wearing a t-shirt.
If you are unable to wear t-shirts to “the office,” simply post it on social media. Wear it to a sporting or school event. In my experience, teachers LOVE t-shirts. Offer the option to purchase the t-shirt to your faculty and staff.
3. Mug Your Supporters
As part of a campaign to advocate for school library programs, one of our state organizations has been “mugging” our supporters. These mugs refer to the many titles a school librarian may have and has been a great way to share what we do with our supporters. Many AAIM members have shared mugs filled with candy and AASL advocacy cards. Personally, I use my mug quite often.
Arkansas is not the first state to conduct a mug campaign. North Carolina, as well as others, have held similar campaigns to advocate for school libraries. Gifting a mug to someone with a package of hot cocoa, a short note about school libraries, and a smile is a simple (non-invasive) way to spread advocacy.
Personally, I do not have much wall space in the library to utilize; however, I do have several doors that become bulletin boards and advertisement spots. Decorating your school library is a great way to advocate for programs, your faculty and staff, and your students. Ask them to participate in photographs and contests, like Complete the Cover (found on A Love of Teaching’s blog) or Book Face. Share teachers’ favorite books, authors, and illustrators. Place a small index card in their mailbox that can be filled out with that information. Index cards can then be displayed throughout the library.
Ask teachers to send in pictures of students getting caught reading and post on social media and in your library. Decorations and photographs not only add to the atmosphere in your library, but they also provide an excellent way to advocate for your students and your program. A picture is worth a thousand words!
5. Make & Take Activity
During school events like Open House or family nights, offer the library space to be a Make & Take Activity area. Parents and students can use the area to create a craft to take home. This is a great time to showcase your MakerSpace area or any awesome technology you might have, like a 3-D printer. Recruit other special class teachers to assist and monitor the activities.
During Open House on our campus the cafeteria and bus info can be found in the library. I provide coloring pages and easy crafts for students. This allows parents time to register for bus routes, fill out cafeteria or other paperwork, and talk with the counselor. Not only does this help the night run more smoothly, but it also allows parents to see the library and get a sense of how libraries are evolving.
Author: Ashley Cooksey
Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.