In February the YALSA blog sponsored the 28 Days of Advocacy series of posts. Every day during that month blog readers had a chance to find out about a particular aspect of library and/or teen advocacy. The full collection of those posts is available in PDF.

Looking through the compilation of posts from the 28 Days project, it’s clear that advocacy isn’t something that a librarian practices during one day, one week, or one month of a year. It’s an ongoing activity that can be integrated into all aspects of library work for, and with, teens.

For example: Read More →

Let me begin my blog on Legislative Day, but saying that two months ago, I had no intention of attending Legislative Day.’  I just learned what it was a couple of months before that.’  For those of you who don’t know, library Legislative Day is when delegates (librarians, library staff, and library supporters) from all over a given state travel to the state capital to meet with state senators and representatives to discuss issues affecting libraries.’  Often, delegates advocate for certain funding or policy initiatives that they hope the legislators will support.’  I knew there were tons of reason that I should go, like the fact that I really believe in championing the cause of libraries or that I conveniently live in the state capital, but the whole idea seemed too overwhelming.’  I haven’t even graduated library school — what was I going to say to a state senator?

Flash forward and I find my local library facing major cuts and budget issues.’  Everywhere you go, all you hear is “Recession. Recession. Recession.”‘  If there was any time to quit being a wimp and speak up about library issues, the time was now.’  It was time to take the plunge. Read More →

There are a number of issues that seem to be “type of library” issues. But when given more than a cursory glance, it turns out that they are simply library issues. One example is the SKILLS Act introduced in the last Congress. Its purpose was to assure that every K-12 school would have a library with a state-certified school library media specialist. Or to put that another way, that every school would provide its students with the vital educational resources that research has shown contribute to student achievement. Isn’t that what No Child Left Behind was supposed to do—promote and cultivate student achievement?
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Teens walk into the library with friends and attitude.’  They ignore the rules, they want to do things their own way, and they want adults to leave them alone.’  Library staff respond with hostility, superiority, and a demand to follow rules that are not necessarily enforced for other age groups.’  How to change that?’  Educate your staff about the psychology of adolescence, help them see that the behavior they are objecting to is perfectly normal for adolescents.’  In addition, educate your staff about applying rules equally across age ranges.’  If teens have to work quietly, then so do the man with the cell phone who yells at the person he’s talking to, the senior citizens who forgot their hearing aids, and the mother with the screaming, hysterical infant or toddler.’  Read More →

You mean there’s another side?’  Well, of course there is!’  We are so eager to get our point across and convince the “enemy” that we need that new teen space or to budget for another school librarian that we forget that’ there are often legitimate reasons for why those things haven’t happened yet.’  I would suggest that before any advocacy/lobbying take place, you sit for a moment and seriously ponder what the other side may be experiencing and the challenges that the other side may be facing.’  Once you have examined the other side of the fence, your enemy may no longer be an enemy but a potential collaborator in your cause.’  Consider these ideas:’  Read More →

Once you are able to find support, funding, spaces, community connections, etc for teen services in your library’s structure you might now look for ways for teens to be involved in the everyday decisions and workload.’  We can talk about supporting the wants and needs of teenagers forever, but the next step is actually using them as a resource (a very valuable resource) in the day-to-day functions of the library, beyond shelving books and preparing crafts. Read More →

Advocacy successes don’t always come quickly or easily, but reading about other libraries’ successes can give us all inspiration and hope in our efforts.

As the ALA Add It Up site’  points out, ” The most dangerous time of the day is from 3 PM to 6 PM. Public libraries provide teens with a constructive place to go during these hours, where teens can organize and participate in supervised recreational and educational activities.”

The Maplewood Memorial Library in New Jersey experienced this problem in a most extreme fashion with 50 or more teens coming into the library every afternoon to just hang out, as you can see by the following account from the YALSA Toolkit: Speaking Up for Library Services to Teens: A Guide to Advocacy. Read More →

Grants allow libraries and their patrons to benefit from extra funds that provide additional services and programs. Preplanning and needs assessments are both important to grant writing because the written narrative and budget will focus on “need” rather than “want.” The grant writer will have to justify need based on some evidence, which may include surveys, interviews, and/or questionnnaires. Once a need has been identified, the grant writer/researcher will then identify sources of possible monies such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Read More →

An apple a day…
A stitch in time…
An ounce of prevention…

Are there strategies for preserving library services for students? What do you do if your students are on the verge of losing significant parts of their library program or library services altogether? Is there an Advocacy Emergency Plan?

The first 20 Days of Advocacy have focused on topics like what advocacy is, crafting messages, and forging partnerships. Now, it is time to pull together these advocacy strategies, skills, and resources to actively protect and preserve library programs for young people. ‘ This winter, AASL has introduced two new advocacy toolkits. ‘ Being proactive is the focus of the’ School Library Program Health and Wellness Toolkit, while pulling together an orchestrated response during an advocacy emergency is the focus of the’ AASL Crisis Toolkit. ‘  Read More →

As advocates, we all have important messages that we are dying to present. Give us just 5 minutes of your time and we’ll have you singing the praises of’ our teen’ issues.’  Often times, we are only given 5 mintues’ (or even less than that) to present ourselves.’  When we have only 1-5 minutes to present all of our points on an issue and to convince another person of action, it is absolutely essential to have a clear, concise position to communicate.’  Read More →