When you read this I’ll be heading home from ALA Midwinter Conference in Atlanta. As always, I am looking forward to it for many reasons, especially the opportunity to connect with my many friends and colleagues from across the country. While the majority are school librarians, I also cherish my public and academic librarian friends. Which got me thinking about the importance of making connections.
My writing and presentations are always for school librarians, and I regularly discuss what needs to be done so we are seen as vital and indispensable. The subtext in some ways has been we must learn how to stop the cuts to school library programs. This ignores the much larger issue which many of us don’t recognize – library programs have been facing cuts in all types of libraries.
To be successful we must work together and get out of our silo.
As a first step, become acquainted with your public library and the librarians there, both in your school district and where you live. Discuss ways you can work together to reach a broader community and show the importance of all libraries. Do the same at any community college or four-year institution in your area.
I first took in this message many years ago when the then ALA president, Jim Rettig, talked about the library ecosystem. We are connected. Damage any one of our library types and all are affected. Students who don’t have or use a school library are not likely to become public library patrons as adults. They also add a burden to college librarians who must attempt to teach twelve years of research and information literacy skills to freshmen who are clueless.
Kids who went to story hours as pre-schoolers have learned to love books and libraries. They bring that attitude with them when they start elementary school. Their obvious enthusiasm is communicated to their fellow students. The more kids who have that background the easier it is for elementary librarians to get on with their instruction and creation of lifelong readers.
You should be using the ALA website for help on Advocacy and other related matters. Of course, you should also check in AASL’s website as well your state association’s. If your state has ta separate association for school librarians, do become familiar with what’s on the larger group’s website and consider joining it.
Don’t overlook going to conferences. I know it can be an economic challenge and many of you find it difficult to get release time, but the investment is worth it for the learning and the connections you will make. Explain to your supervisor what you will be able to bring back to benefit students and teachers.
Beyond that, I strongly recommend you check out Libraries Transform the current initiative from ALA and has wonderful resources you can use. There are two tabs in particular you should check out. “Trends” has twenty-three colorful circles each with a trend from Aging Advances to Urbanization. In addition to Gamification, Maker Movement, and Sharing Economy you will find some less familiar ones such as Haptic Technology and Fast Casual. Not all are part of libraries – but they could be.
The second tab to look at is Toolkit. For that you have to register but it will give you access to how to reach target audiences, launch your campaign, and some ideas on how to collect stories. Graphics has a number of items you can print, post, and/or distribute.
Finally, I want to be sure you are aware of Future Ready Librarians and the Facebook page. This is for school librarians and it’s about how to be an active part of Future Ready Schools. You want to be a building leader in that movement. And you might also look at the School Library Advocacy website. They have a wonderful blog that is another source of ideas and possibilities.
You are only alone in your library if you choose to be. To be a leader and bring to your students, teachers and educational community what they need, you must get connected.
How are you connected? Where else should you go? How can your fellow librarians help? If you’re on the School Librarian’s Workshop Facebook page, share your questions, concerns, and successes.