I am always thrilled when I hear about librarians showing up as leaders in their building. They are stepping out of their comfort zones and taking on the challenge of leadership. For librarians, becoming a leader carries the implicit requirement for building advocacy for the library program which includes you.
While advocacy is a given, I am concerned that in the conversations I have been having, I don’t hear much about advocacy plans. Without a concrete plan, advocacy will occur in a hit or miss fashion. And in that case, it will mostly be miss. As the eminent philosopher, Yogi Berra, once said, “if you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up someplace else.”
Start by creating a strategic plan which is ALWAYS about advocacy. Whatever you want to accomplish must also build relationships and partnerships for you and your program. All good plans start with your Mission (and Vision). In brief, your Mission declares your Purpose—showing why the library program is vital. It’s your “perspiration.
The mission of the Blank School Library is to provide students with the opportunity to become not only lifelong users of information, but also creators of information. The library strengthens the curriculum by collaborating with teachers, developing a collection that is representative of the community, and implementing literacy instruction for students.
The Blank School Library mission is to empower and inspire all students to apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to become creative thinkers and problem solvers, to experience individual and team success, and to become responsible, contributing members of our community.
Your Vision is what you wish to achieve and how you want to be perceived. It’s your inspiration and aspiration.
The Blank School Library Media Program is the center of collaborative learning producing creative students who have an appreciation of literature, critical thinking skills, and a respect for others and self, and who are prepared to make a contribution to the world.
The school library media program is a safe, open, accessible and inviting learning library commons, essential to student achievement, citizenship and support the principles of intellectual freedom. Our students think globally and are capable of creating new knowledge.
Now take the next step. What would you want to achieve that would strengthen your program? Who else would benefit? How does it promote your Mission? How long might it take to accomplish? Whose support are you trying to get? What does that person (or group) want?
Keep thinking and putting down questions. Use the answers to create multi-year goals. You can have one goal that builds collaboration with teachers and another for getting parents more involved with the library.
For every goal you need an Action Plan. What are you going to do next year to get you closer to the goal? What resources will you need? What stakeholders can be part of it? How will you get the word out? Create a timeline and an assessment for each of the key steps. At the end of the year, develop your Action Plan for the next year.
Actually crafting an Advocacy Plan takes thought and commitment but it’s vital if you are going to build ongoing support for the library and the library program. But you are just one person and are carrying a heavy load already. Good news – there are some places to get help.
AASL to the rescue. Its Advocacy Page provides a wealth of resources for you. Check out the Tools. Definitely download the AASL Advocacy Toolkit. As you go through it, note the Everyday Advocacy pages. Do any of those fit with the goals of your Advocacy Plan?
ALA has an Advocacy page as well. Although much of it relates to the legislative aspects of Advocacy, there is a link to the Libraries Transform campaign which I have discussed previously. You can get great ideas for slogans from this page.
Finally, use your colleagues. Ask for help on your state association’s listserv. Check the various library-based Facebook groups. Post your questions and challenges. We are an incredibly supportive group. You will be amazed at how much information you will get in response.
Don’t put this off until you have time to do it. You will never have time. Make the time – and START TODAY.