By Blanche Woolls and Susan D. Ballard
We knew we’d get your attention by using the word “cookie,” and now that we have it, we’ll tell you about that…in just a bit. First, we’d like to focus on the important word that precedes it in our blog title: Advocacy. Advocacy is all about believing in and supporting a cause. It is an ongoing process and is never crossed off your to-do list. As school librarians we believe in and support school libraries, and we want others to take up the banner and move forward with us. So, let’s make sure that each of us pledge to build up a core of advocates during School Library Month; people who recognize and talk about the value of school librarians. This begins with you talking about what you know and do best. When is the last time you told anyone why you are a school librarian? Or, how the work you do is truly beneficial to them?
Look at the list below and take a literal page from the classic children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Identify one or two stakeholders/beneficiaries to connect with before the month is over and reach out “with a cookie.” Sure it can be a real cookie! Engaging people with food is an age-old strategy, but the cookie should also be in the form of sharing a story about how you and the school library program made a difference that they can take some pride in, or even better, some credit for:
- Principal (with a cookie) about what happened in the library during the past two weeks – send/bring photos and testimonials from kids and teachers;
- Superintendent (with a cookie) about what’s been going on in the library this year, maybe taking along a student or two;
- School board (with lots of cookies), some parents who volunteer and lots of students to show off what they do. Especially important if a new makerspace or other innovation has been incorporated into your library;
- Head of the public library (with a cookie) to discuss what joint projects might happen — make sure to also include the teen and children’s librarians;
- Local state representative and senator (with a cookie) and tell them how we rely upon their good judgment and thoughtful legislation to help students and teachers;
- Federal representatives (they like cookies, too!), your local member of congress, and a state senator if you are able. Make sure they understand how vital ESSA is and how much we appreciate the recognition of the role of an “effective school library.” Take along AASL’s position paper.
- Your next-door neighbor (don’t forget the cookie) and relate how important it is to provide students and teachers access to information.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie was all about the domino effect – where one thing leads to another. And while the little boy was run ragged by the end of the book, that was one happy mouse–and that’s advocacy!
Oh, and while we are at it, don’t forget to celebrate your commitment as a true school library advocate by contributing to AASL’s 65th Anniversary campaign. You’ll be glad you did.