Take 60 Seconds to Support School Libraries!

The Senate is working on a new education bill (aka ESEA reauthorization) right now, and it’s vital that they include school libraries!  You can help ensure that happens:

  1. Go to this web page
  2. In the blue bar in the upper half of the page, choose how you want to contact your members of Congress: letter, Tweet, or phone call
  3. Click on the option(s) you want, provide the required contact info, & submit.  The letter and Tweet are pre-written for you, so it’s super easy! (but you do have the option to customize them if you want)
  4. Forward this message to library advocates in your community & encourage them to do take action, too
  5. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

For more information, read this blog post from ALA.  Thank you for supporting libraries!

-Beth Yoke

#act4teens: Partnering with Policy Makers for Improved Advocacy Outcomes

act4teens

Just in time for District Days!  In this podcast (click through to download or connect to online player), Dorcas Hand, longtime Houston-area Independent School Librarian, discusses her experiences working with school board members, candidates, and legislators in support of library services for young people in her area and beyond.

The files and links that Dorcas mentions can be found below:
YALSA Advocacy Benchmarks
Students Need Libraries in Houston ISD webpage
Students Need Libraries in Houston ISD facebook page
Students Need Libraries facebook page
TASL: Parents & School Librarians Partnering for Student Success
TASL: Teachers & School Librarians Partnering for Student Success

Wendy Stephens is a member of the YALSA Advocacy Resources Taskforce.

#NLLD15 First Time Attendee

So, at some point in February, I decided that I would apply for YALSA’s travel stipend to attend #NLLD15.  I was hopeful and I received the award.  So, I planned my trip, contacted my state coordinator, packed my bag, and was off to Washington.

dupont circleI arrived at 12:30 on Sunday at Ronald Reagan International Airport.  I took Southwest and was able to get a pretty economical ticket.  I found my way to the METRO station, purchased a Smart Ride Card, and hopped on the Metro toward Dupont Circle.  I was on my way to the First Time Attendee Session at the ALA Washington Office.

I stopped for a quick photo on Dupont Circle.  I think Annette Bening made a bigger deal out of it in the “America President” than it was.  Three quick blocks and I stopped at Kramer Books & Afterwords Café for Lunch.  They have an amazing brunch/luncheon menu on Sundays and it is a restaurant attached to a bookstore. Nirvana!  I had the crab cake open faced sandwich.  ( I found it on Urban Spoon.)ala office

After lunch, I walked the 2 blocks to the ALA Washington Office.

The meeting for first time attendees was amazing.  We worked on techniques for speaking with Senators and Representatives.  We talked about “the ask”.  I even managed to take a selfie with the presenter, Stephanie Vance.

Working on your asking skillsThe training was inspiring.  We had the opportunity to meet other librarians and media specialists from across the country.

I headed back to the host hotel after the meeting to meet up with my state delegation for dinner.  We went to a local restaurant and talked about our goals and appointments for the next day.  Oops!  I was supposed to make some appointments!

The next morning, we had a full day of sessions on the different issues and pieces of legislation affecting libraries at the host hotel.  Our state coordinator found a few minutes to have a pastry.Florida delegationCharlie takes a break

Since, I hadn’t made any appointments the day before, I took the list of representatives that were not yet contacted from Florida and made some calls to set up appointments with their staffers.  I managed to contact all but two and schedule appointments throughout the next day.

 

In the evening, we attended a reception for library staff at the Dirksen Building, where some of the Senate Committees meet.  I met the YALSA President and the Director and we were photobombed during a selfie.  I also managed to photobomb the President of ALA during a speech to the delegates.

YALSA prez director and me           Working on my testifying

After a quick breakfast the next morning, we were off to the Capitol to visit and discuss the issues.  As usual Southern charm rules and the Florida delegation was warmly received by the staffers of our Representatives and Senators.  Our delivery was professional and I believe our message was heard.  I was encouraged that most were interested in us because we were their constituents in the districts.

It was an interesting experience that I would love to have the chance to repeat.

office visit1

After a quick bite in the underground cafeteria, I was off to the METRO for one last ride to the Airport.  Thank you, YALSA for the opportunity to #act4teens and represent the interests of Florida libraries in Washington, and thank you Friends of YALSA for funding this opportunity!  If you’d like to be the recipient of this travel grant for 2016, apply online by Feb. 1, 2016.

Grand Central Station           Metro seal

 

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Vandy Pacetti-Donelson is a Library Media Specialist. She is a library advocate and board member for the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Find her online at www.eliterateandlevelingup.com or follow her on Twitter @VandyPD.

Advocating for School Libraries – a Primer

“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.

WHY ADVOCATE

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

  1. 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!” Continue reading Advocating for School Libraries – a Primer

Does your State Legislature Support Libraries?

Has it crossed your radar yet that there’s been a big shift in how laws are getting made?  Last year state legislatures around the country passed 45,564 bills, compared with just 352 passed in Congress.  That works out to an average of 911 bills per state.  This change in the way laws are getting made means that we need to change the way we advocate for teens and libraries.  Spring is the time of year when many state legislatures are in session.  What can you (or your teen patrons) do to call their attention to the importance of libraries?  YALSA has the answer!  We have everything you need to reach out to your state legislators and ask them if they will sponsor a resolution in support of libraries.  A resolution is not legislation or a bill–just a feel good message about libraries.  Both Congress and state legislatures pass these types of warm fuzzies all of the time in an effort to make nice with the voters.  YALSA has a few sample documents compiled into one file that you can adapt and use, including a sample resolution, emails and a press release.  Access the MS Word file today for an easy way to raise awareness about libraries with the elected officials in your state!
Continue reading Does your State Legislature Support Libraries?

Take 60 Seconds to Help Teens & Libraries

Please email or phone your members of Congress and ask them to sign the “Dear Appropriator letter supporting library funding via these two programs: LSTA (Library Services Technology Act) and IAL (Innovative Approaches to Literacy).”  Then, ask all other library supporters you know to do the same by no later than March 20th.  Contact information for Congress members is here: http://cqrcengage.com/ala/home (just put in your zip code in the box on the lower right side).

To see whether your Members of Congress signed these letters last year, view the FY 2015 Funding Letter Signees document (pdf). If so, please be sure to thank and remind them of that when you email or call!  More information can be found on ALA’s blog, District Dispatch.  For more information about LSTA, check out this document LSTA Background and Ask (pdf).  For more information on IAL, view School Libraries Brief (pdf)

Thank you for taking this step to ensure that our nation’s teens continue to have access to library staff and services that will help them succeed in school and prepare for college and careers!

-Beth Yoke

Teen Services Amplified with Everyday Advocacy

On November 12, YALSA held a free webinar for members on the topic of Teen Services Amplified with Everyday Advocacy.’ I facilitated this webinar, which drew over 40 engaged YALSA members in real time, and many more who have listened to the archived version. Because the topic of advocacy is such a big one, I wanted to focus on the ways any of us can use easily available resources, like YALSA’s Advocacy Toolkit, to amplify our message that library services are important to teens and to communities.

After some quick definitions–talking about how marketing, advocacy, and lobbying differ, for example–we got into the heart of the matter by sharing examples of ways we can advocate on a daily basis. We started by talking about WHO we advocate with: administrators, co-workers, parents, community members. Attendees gave examples of times they had been able to show their bosses or co-workers how library programs and services were valuable to the teens in their communities.

We also talked about the HOW of advocacy:

  • focus on the value of programs and services
  • keep it simple
  • talk about needs, not just desires
  • stay positive
  • tell stories
  • listen, and find out what your audience cares about

Finally, I shared some of YALSA’s great resources for advocacy, and encouraged members to take advantage of the advice, talking points, hints, and tools that YALSA has developed over the years. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to advocacy!

The archived version of the webinar is free to YALSA members, available on the YeLL (YALSA e-Learning Library) page.

Sarah Flowers

Amplified: Advocating with Your Co-Workers

In talking about advocating for teen services, we often emphasize advocating with your library’s administration, or with elected officials, or the public. But there’s a great–and often untapped–pool of people that can really help you spread the word about teen services: your library colleagues, from fellow librarians and library assistants to clerks and pages.’ If you get these people on board with your message, they will carry a lot of the load of getting the message out to others.

Think about it: who are the people in the library that the public has the most contact with? Yes, it’s the front-line staff, the folks who spend hours a day at the service points or in the stacks. These are the staffers that members of the public are most likely to know by name, or at least by face. In many public libraries, in fact, it is the clerks and pages who are most likely to be truly local–people who live and work in the community that the library serves.

So how can they help you advocate for teens? Well, they can’t, unless they understand why they should and how they can go about it. Your first step is to inform and energize them. Keep in mind that many adults don’t really understand teenagers and sometimes they’re even a little afraid of them. Your job may be simply to demystify teens and help others understand why they do what they do.

  • Offer to do a short session at a library staff meeting and/or new employee orientation on teen developmental needs.
  • When you are chatting with co-workers in the break room, share interesting stories about teens and the value of teen services.
  • Come up with a joint project in which you can work with children’s or adult services librarians to serve both teens and children or adults.
  • Make a note when you see a positive interaction between another staff member and a teen, and follow up by complimenting your colleague, either verbally or with a quick note.
  • Find out which of your colleagues have teenagers at home, or work with teens in some other part of the community–at church, at a volunteer organization, as a coach, etc.
  • Find opportunities to remind your colleagues that helping teens grow into strong and capable adults is good for the whole community.
  • Share your own enthusiasm for teen services at every opportunity–others will be swept up in your wake.
  • Find out if you can take another staff member along with you when you speak at schools or at community events.

When teen services and teens are seen in a more positive light, advocacy becomes the next step. To help your colleagues advocate, you will need to continue to provide them with the necessary information. Continue reading Amplified: Advocating with Your Co-Workers

Amplified: What to Amplify?

amplification image by Flickr Creative Commons user mikecoghLast week I read the short article What do I Amplify and I said to myself, “I’ve never thought about the idea of advocacy this way, I should have.” When I talk with teen library staff working with teens we tend to focus on the need to advocate and how to do that successfully. We talk about how to advocate for different types of initiatives and to different stakeholder groups. But, we don’t really talk about how to decide what to advocate for – that’s a mistake.

The article, written by a Johnny Bevacqua, a school level administrator, includes the following quote that I think is really helpful:

“I need to find that sweet spot in communicating some important management details of the job, while consistently and “loudly” finding time to amplify the instructional leadership part of the job.”

Continue reading Amplified: What to Amplify?

Amplified! Speaking the Language of Management

YALSA President Shannon Peterson and I have been talking about her presidential theme of Amplified: Speaking Up for Teens and Libraries, and we were discussing the effort to build strong ties between YALSA and our members and library administrators. In May and June, I wrote a six-part series for this blog on how to work with library managers and administrators. Those posts were based partly on a survey that YALSA conducted of members who identified as supervisors and managers. One of the things we asked was what were some of the buzz words, lingo, and hot topics that made managers prick up their ears and listen. So here are some of those terms and ways you might incorporate them into your conversations with your managers:

ROI. This is manager-speak for “return on investment.” It’s really pretty straightforward. Managers want to know that if the library invests time, money, personnel, and equipment on a service, program, or collection, there will be some return on that investment. What kind of return? Maybe you can demonstrate that the effort you invested in putting on a dynamite program resulted in increased circulation in a particular area or from a particular demographic. Maybe adding a service, like homework help, resulted in reaching a previously under-served segment of the community. The more you can collect data (track circulation before and after the program; keep count of the number of new cards that were issued to participants in a new program or service, etc.), the easier it will be for you to show your managers how much return you got from your investment. Continue reading Amplified! Speaking the Language of Management