Supporting Each Other

In my KQ Blog Post last month, Standing Together, Working Together, I wrote: “The school library voice is stronger and heard more clearly when we work together to educate everyone about the essential work of school librarians.” An important aspect of working together is supporting each other. This is especially important now as we work to advocate for intellectual freedom and equity of access to school libraries for all students.  I have found that a huge benefit of being a member of both my state and national associations has been the opportunity to network, talk with other librarians about common concerns, and receive meaningful advice and support.

When it comes to advocating for our profession and our learners on the local and state level, this networking and sharing of ideas are especially helpful. School librarians are known for their collaboration and I have always found them to be quite willing to share ideas and give permission to use or modify infographics, handouts, or reports that can be used locally to influence stakeholders.

Here are just a few examples of how this networking has benefited the advocacy work of the Michigan Association for Media in Education (MAME):

  • Visual Guideline to Staffing Choices in School Libraries – In 2018, Dorcas Hand with assistance from other school library advocates in Texas developed this fabulous visual guide that shows in color codes and chart form the expertise of a school librarian as compared with that of a teacher and library paraprofessional staff. MAME asked Dorcas for permission to “Michiganize” this handout for use in our state.  She agreed and MAME was able to use the document in their efforts to clarify the role of certified school librarians.  This document is now used by personnel in the Michigan Department of Education when looking at the proper placement of staff in school libraries.
  • School and Public Libraries: Different Missions, Different Roles – A school librarian from Kansas shared this resource with me during a discussion on AASL Forum. KASL gave permission to use the ideas from this and to modify them as needed. MAME used this information to speak with our public library colleagues and put together a joint statement. {The New Jersey Association for School Libraries and the New Jersey Library Association also have an excellent and more recent fact sheet about school and public libraries.}

There have also been so many other conversations, posts, and email exchanges from school librarians across the country that have formally or informally impacted school library advocacy work in Michigan.

Most educational policy is defined and implemented at the state and local level. Thus, it is imperative that we continue to advocate and work to influence policy at these levels. There are many AASL members doing amazing advocacy work. I would love for AASL members interested in state and local advocacy to be able to come together to share ideas and resources and to learn from each other.

For state-level advocacy work, the ALA Connect Space called AASL Chapter Forum can be used for this conversation. This space is “open to all and may include the state-level school library association’s president/chair, other officers, conference chair, etc. Past Delegates and other interested stakeholders from the association may join the forum.” Chapter leaders will want to make sure that chapter members working on state-level advocacy work join the forum.  To join:

  1. Sign in to connect.ala.org and navigate to the AASL Chapter Forum group home page.
  2. Click on the bright blue “Join Community” button above the group name.
  3. Once you confirm the frequency you want for email notifications from the community, you will be able to participate and the community content will be available to you.

For individual and local level advocacy, I invite members to use the AASL Member Forum to ask questions, share ideas, and discuss issues.

I hope to kick off the conversation by posting in these forums soon.  Please join in on the conversation.

Also, if you do have questions, or thoughts about how AASL can better support you or if you need specific support, please do not hesitate to reach out to AASL at aasl@ala.org or to me at aaslpresident@ala.org.

Let’s continue to work together, stand together, and support each other!

Author: Kathy Lester, AASL President 2022-2023



Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Uncategorized

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