For many librarians, one of the biggest obstacles to getting out there and advocating for their teens is simply not knowing what to say. You wouldn’t go out to build a house without tools, right? Right. Well, you wouldn’t go out to advocate for your teens without tools either. YALSA is here to help! There are a multitude of “toolkits” available online that will get you started and equip you with the facts and statistics that will make a great impression.

“Add It Up: Libraries Make the Difference in Youth Development and Education” was just released before Midwinter. This site is packed with talking points for services to patrons from birth to 18. The teen section has two separate entries, one for public libraries and one school libraries. Use these talking points, combined with stories from your own library, when communicating with elected officials to make a strong and vivid case.

“Speaking Up for Library Services to Teens” is a gold mine of fantastic information that was created by the YALSA Advocacy Task Force.’  This document has everything you need to stand up for your teens – and help them become advocates, too. You’ll find advocacy how-to’s, sample materials, resources, and case studies from librarians around the country. Definitely take a look!

YALSA’s own Legislative Advocacy Guide is a short and sweet document that explains why legislative advocacy is important, and how to take action on important issues. One of the most helpful parts of the guide is a step-by-step explanation of how to request an in-person meeting with a legislator and what to say when you are there.

If you’re not sure who to contact, the ALA Legislative Action Center is the place to go to find contact information for your federal officials, and to find talking points on “hot” issues that require action by our members. Find it at .’ 

Stand Up and Speak Out for Libraries, an advocacy toolkit created by ALA, gives you more good information on how, why, and when to advocate for libraries.

And lastly, check out a recent blog post from AASL.’  They’ve collected several excellent resources for advocacy in school libraries.

There is no better time than right now to become an advocate for teens in libraries. With economic times the way they are, there’s no time to lose. I had the chance to meet my state senator and state representatives last week at a Library Legislative Breakfast. I reviewed the YALSA toolkits, and used the information from “Add It Up” on the hours between 3:00 and 6:00 pm being the most dangerous for teenagers. My legislator knew that kids head to the public library after school, but the facts I was able to share definitely made an impression about why teen services are vital in libraries. All the legislators who were present made the point that it’s the loudest groups that tend to get the most attention – and that they really do listen when they get a flood of emails from their consitutents. So take a look at the toolkits, craft your message, and start sharing it!

Maureen Ambrosino
Chair, YALSA Legislation

About Maureen Ambrosino

I was the chair of YALSA Legislation for 2008-2009, and was given the title of "raging library activist" by School Library Journal for my January 08 article on advocacy. When I'm not emailing legislators and rallying other librarians to email theirs, I am the Youth Services Consultant at Central Massachusetts Regional Library System in Shrewsbury, MA.

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