Like many school librarians from across the United States, I had an awesome time learning from and connecting with my colleagues during the AASL Conference this past weekend in Ohio. I learned new about resources and strategies for creating guided inquiry lessons, Genius Hour programs, makerspace activities, community outreach programs, and writing centers. Meeting authors, learning about new books and web tools, and discussing current issues in school libraries are always staples at an AASL Conference.
The resonating topic during workshops and casual meetups was the ever-popular "A" word: ADVOCACY! For the rest of this school year I challenge you to not only advocate, but ADVERTISE! We all can learn from one another, but we are preaching to the proverbial choir. WE know what we do...we need to SHOW others what we do. Because, if a school librarian creates a dynamic program and no one knows about it, does it make an impact?
Here are some ideas:
1. Read and share the most current research supporting the effective of school libraries: School Libraries Work!
2. Visit SchoolLibraryAdvocacy.org regularly to learn about innovative tools and resources to develop your advocacy skills.
3. Join and support library organizations such as ALA, AASL, YALSA. Also join the ISTE LIB SIG group.
4. Attend events such as school board meetings, PTA meetings, Curriculum Nights, and Open Houses whether you are required to or not. Help key stakeholders to put faces to names. Wear your school colors and advocacy t-shirts when your colleagues do. We are all in the same union, and we are part of the team.
5. Create business cards and thank you notes to share with other teachers, administrators, parents, community members, board members, and educational companies. Hang a banner in your library highlighting your mission.
6. Learn a "new" language and speak it. Use the current buzzwords such as STEM, ESL, Common Core Standards, differentiation, guided inquiry, and Genius Hour to help your listener to understand how you can support classroom instruction. Embed information literacy skills in the current curriculum, and demonstrate how these skills are essential to 21st century learning.
8. Attend and present at conferences that are NOT related to the library profession. I once presented at a math conference. My participants looked at me puzzled, "Why is a librarian presenting to a room of math teachers?" I soon won them over when I began to share web tools and apps that they would find useful. We have all been trained to find information, evaluate it, and glean the nuggets of gold. Share them!
9. Connect through social media with not only other librarians, but content area educators around the world. As school librarians, we are Jacks and Janes of all trades. Join groups on Facebook, follow trends on Twitter, and engage in conversations on Voxer. Don't wait for your invitation to arrive. Check out these links curated by CybraryMan to get you started:
10. Write for anyone and anywhere about the importance of libraries, especially your program: blogs, magazine articles, books, PTA and school newsletters, the local newspaper, flyers stuck to telephone poles (that one is a joke, but you get my point!)
Kristina A Holzweiss