Last 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 â€œloudlyâ€ finding time to amplify the instructional leadership part of the job.”
Thinking about library teen services I might change the second half of the quote to, “…finding time to amplify teen outcomes and the leadership parts of the work.”
The question is, how do those working with teens determine that sweet spot and what to amplify related to teen outcomes and leadership? It’s important to not simply pick something out of a hat and say, “let’s advocate for this this month” Library staff working with teens need to be strategic about what to amplify. In order to be effective it’s valuable to tie into the community when making this kind of decision. Here are some ways I’ve been thinking about the “what” aspect of amplifying:
- Consider what’s going on in the community and the services you provide teens that connect with those activities and initiatives. Amplify what you provide to the groups that are working on those projects.
- Think about the gaps in services to teens within the community and amplify what you provide teens that can help to fill in those gaps.
- Are there debates among adults in the community about a certain aspect of teen life? Teen use of technology or teen behaviors? If so then speak up about how the library’s teen services can help in those areas and at the same time support successful teen development.
Obviously, when deciding what to amplify it’s good to tie-in to what’s going on in the community. This can help you to demonstrate value within a particular context while at the same time give you a chance to connect with stakeholders and leaders and build relationships with these members of the community.
How do you decide what to amplify? Let us know in the comments.
I love this question.
I’ve spent the better part of a decade advocating for dedicated teen staff in my system. Now that we’ve achieved that, I find myself trying to prioritize what my teen librarians and ultimately the teens themselves really need next. Programming dollars? Equipment? Bigger collections? Space? My county and the teens that we serve is very diverse, so it’s an important (and sometimes tricky) question to ask and this article’s reminder to also think about a process in which to START asking/answering that question is a good one.