“What? I need to do what? But what does that mean?” These are exactly the words that flashed through my mind when I attended my first annual conference and heard a keynote speaker say, “It is our responsibility to advocate for our students, our programs and our profession.” After what I consider a compulsory moment of internal panic, [inside voice: I have a new responsibility. No one told me about it. I don’t even know how! This did not happen in library school. What?] I began to calm myself. [It is a brand new day and I can do this, I think. Ok, but first, I will read the new Neal Shusterman book.]
Now, several years later, as I stare at the four stools behind my circulation desk and feel their lonely state, I now understand that is is my responsibility to advocate for my students, my program, and my profession.
AASL provides the best definition:
Advocacy is the ongoing process of building partnerships so that others will act for and with you, turning passive support into educated action for the library program.
When we advocate, we are building partnerships and educating others to act on behalf of our students and programs. I don’t know about you, but I can always use the extra help. Part of being effective is seeking the resources needed for your program. If you want help, you must ask. (It is not WWII, the volunteer generation has left the building.) Trust me, relying on the collective memories of library experiences from your stakeholders to drive them to act is a bad idea. You must share your vision in order to offer opportunities for investment. Get some great advocacy resources from YALSA at ala.org/yalsa/advocacy
WHAT I CAN DO NOW
- STAY POSITIVE. No one likes to hear about the downfall of the library or your fear about losing your job or your program. This is negative branding and you let them know you are expendable. Worse, no one is comfortable, so they avoid the media center. Post your positive message where you can see it every day, the message you will share when others ask how are things are going.
Exa. “Hey, did you know the new Florida Teens Read List was just announced. So many of the books look so good! I can’t wait to read them.”
Exa. “I am just arranging the new college and career section! Isn’t it great!”
Exa. “Oh, these kids are keeping me busy, busy, busy!” Read More →