Chances are that during your most recent 9 to 5 work day you took part in some teen advocacy without even knowing it. Did you:
- Talk to teens about the great things that the library has to offer
- Talk to colleagues about why service to teens is so important to the library and the community
- Mention to parents how developmental assets and related theories have an impact on teen’s growing up and how the library helps teens to succeed in their development
- Collaborate with a community group on a teen-related project and talk about how libraries support teen needs
Those are just a few ways in which library staff working with teens advocate for teens and the library on a regular basis. It’s possible that you don’t even know that you are advocating when you are. But, it’s important that you do recognize that you are advocating for teens every day. Why? Well, I’ll tell you:
- Knowing that you are actually advocating for teens on a regular basis can help you to feel confident in that area. It’s not scary when you see that every time you talk with others about the value of library services to teens you are advocating.
- Looking at the teen library advocacy that you do every day gives you a chance to consider what you can do to move forward in this area. Maybe you do have some good relationships with agencies in the community and you have advocated with them for a bit of time. What can you do to expand their support of library teen services? How can you advocate even more strongly with that group?
- Maybe you’ve talked about the value of teen services to parents, colleagues, and others so regularly and so honestly that you’ve gained support that you don’t even know about. You need to know about that in order to extend and expand your services whenever wanted or needed.
Think about the day you just spent, or better yet, tomorrow pay attention to every time you talk with others about the value of teen services. Not just what you do but why you do what you do. How often are you doing that? Who are you doing it with? What can you do as a next step in gaining support from those you are talking with. Figure out what you did today – or tomorrow – and then build on that tomorrow and the next day, and the next, and the next.
And, don’t forget, YALSA has some great advocacy resources and tools for you to use to get started and keep advocating too. Check them out!