About 10 days ago I was in Portland, OR co-facilitating a preconference at the Public Library Association (PLA) Conference. The title of the preconference was 360 Degrees of Teen Advocacy and my co-facilitator, Francisca Goldsmith, and I focused a good deal of our discussions with participants on how story plays an important part in successful advocacy efforts for teen library services.

Francisca talked with participants about what advocacy is and what is required in order to be a strong advocate for teens and library services. I talked about how technology such as Google Alerts, Twitter, Poll Anywhere, and Animoto can help in advocacy efforts. The group discussed the difference between advocacy and marketing and Francisca and I told our own teen advocacy stories.

Francisca and I each had several stories to tell, including stories of day-to-day advocacy and stories that highlighted that by regularly speaking up for teens with library administrators, colleagues, and community members, librarians can be successful teen advocates. There were also stories of how a long-term approach to advocacy which, includes working with community agencies and library administrators, can have a positive impact on the level of support available for teens.

Participants were asked to think about their own teen/library stories that they could use to advocate for teens and library services. Everyone at the preconference spent time in the session telling their stories to each other, getting feedback on how to improve their stories in order to be a more successful teen advocate, and revising their stories. The stories participants told varied and provided real-life examples of how a story can be used in advocacy efforts.

What stories do you have? Do you have a story about how you’ve been a successful teen advocate? Do you have a story about library programs and services that can be used in advocacy efforts? Let readers know in the comments.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

4 Thoughts on “360 Degrees of Teen Advocacy

  1. Francisca Goldsmith on April 3, 2010 at 10:01 am said:

    Being in a room with folks ready and willing to advocate for and with teens and libraries is a great way to get those advocacy stories flowing! Among the ones I shared during the preconference was one about working to establish a realio-trulio teen-dedicated librarian at a mid-sized system in Atlantic Canada (from my then-administrative position) and another about working to realize the potential for well organized services for teens in a smaller system on the West Coast (from my then-staff position). In both cases, the stories pointed up these common themes:
    Advocacy is by nature social and requires hearing what the community–not just the library–wants
    Teens need adult advocates
    Willingness to advocate can come from any level within the library and must include multiple levels of system support

    Linda and I heard some exciting stories during the preconference and I’m hoping some get posted here by the advocates in attendance that day!

  2. Amy Carney on April 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm said:

    This pre-conference session really pushed me forward to the next step I have been avoiding. I have been dubbed the unofficial teen librarian in our public library here in Seward, AK. The events that we have run for teens of all ages and backgrounds have had meager turnout and appeared of low interest thus far. However, I am learning as we go along. This session really inspired me that collaboration is vital! I cannot do this alone. Though my co-workers are supportive, I have not really found the support for which I have been craving. Our community teen center and schools truly have a passion for the teens in Saktown (as the kids here have fondly named it). I want to take that step to start collaborating with them. Whether teen programs are initiated at the library or out of the building is of no significance. Advocating for teens is the true inspiration. Establishing communication and partnerships with these other entities is the only way the teens in this tiny town will win. Thank you, Linda & Francisca, for sharing your passion! By the end of this month, I should have a good story to tell. 🙂

  3. Amy, glad to hear that the preconference helped you to move forward. Collaboration sounds like a perfect next step for you and I think the point you make about location of program isn’t as important as serving teens successfully is key.

    Can’t wait to read your story in a few more weeks!

  4. Amy Schrank on April 8, 2010 at 3:23 pm said:

    Like the other Amy, I masquerade as an unofficial teen librarian when I am not doing my adult librarian duites. My co-worker and I order all of the YA collection and plan programming. Attendance at programming has been not great and not that programming is the only factor of a successful teen program at a library. I came to the workshop with the attitude that my library, my co-worker and I have to be serving our teens better. Due to constraints I feel working with others in the community will be essential. My homework assignment from this class was for me to write a proposal to my director for a teen specialist for our library system (32 branches, 6 counties in Central MN). I haven’t started yet, but hope to finish by May. Thanks again Linda and Francisca for the opportunity to learn about advocacy 🙂

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