Through the hustle and bustle of the ending semester and winter holidays approaching, I can’t help but think of next semester. I’m a planner. This time of year I begin to plan activities and collaborations, New Year’s Resolutions, and advocacy for the new year. While these three things seem to be their own entity, my plan is to combine them for the new year.
It is often difficult to “toot your own horn”; however, advocacy is not bragging. Advocacy is simply supporting a cause. Our cause? School libraries matter. Every student has a story. Fake news is real, and fact finding must be taught. Let’s make a resolution to make 2019 be our year for advocacy through activities and collaborations!
So, what steps can we take to support our resolution?
Get connected & share your story
Being a connected educator has been the most powerful step I’ve taken in my advocacy journey. Sharing ideas with like-minded people and receiving feedback has been one of the best steps I’ve taken professionally. I never dreamed of the support I’d find from strangers, now friends, from all over the world. Sharing my and my students’ stories has been empowering. Showing students that social media can be used as a powerful tool for good, not shaming or blaming, empowers them to become advocates, as well. Create and use a custom hashtag to curate all of your advocacy posts.
Advocate for your school library programs by creating local partnerships. Partnering with your local public library can help expose students to a different type of library and additional resources, and it can encourage families to utilize the library more often. Business and organization partnerships can lead to advocacy of book clubs, guest speakers, and special programs offered in your school library. Partner with your students to support your social media presence. Nikki Robertson often has her students take over the school library’s Snapchat, giving ownership to students. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
We often assume our stakeholders just know what a school library is or what a school librarian does. But they don’t always know or they have an out-dated image of a bun-having, cardigan-wearing, noise-shushing bespectacled librarian. This is why telling your story is so important! Create infographics to share with your administrators, school board members, and parents. Canva is full of great templates. Tag legislators in your social media posts and email them a copy of your state library journal. With recent elections, now is a great time to advocate to a new slate of local legislators. Invite stakeholders into your space. Create an open invitation when the campus is having events. Advocate with stories. Develop your “elevator speech” and share it widely!
Will you join me in making 2019 our year for advocacy? How do you plan to increase advocacy in the new year?
Author: Ashley Cooksey
Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.