“You are a change agent. You’re a curriculum person. You’re an instruction person. You’re a professional development person. Sell your value. Show your value. That’s where you make a difference.”
– Dr. Bill Chapman, Superintendent, Jarrell Independent School District, TX
Educators have the potential to make lasting changes in the lives of every student and throughout their community. As Dr. Chapman stated, school librarians are working harder than ever to prove their value and update perceptions of the school library and its role in education. From leading the digital transformation to innovative resources in the classroom, the school library has gone through significant transformations in recent years to be recognized as an integral player in education and student success. They provide digital content that promotes collaborative teaching, better learning outcomes, and comfort with technology. But changing perceptions can be a challenge and does not happen overnight.
To support school library advocacy and education as well as staff development for educators, we partnered with School Library Journal to ask more than 350 educators and librarians how they have made collaborative efforts to advocate for school libraries and students. Their valuable insight from experiences in the classroom, library, teaching, and the community expanded into eight best practices that are outlined in our infographic, white paper, and webinar.
Where Should Librarians Begin?
Leading educators agree that in order for librarians to successfully advocate for the library, they must first advocate for students. Every decision and action should center around what is best for each student, and to make that known to the administration.Educators, administrators, and librarians agree that advocacy and explaining what you do never ends. Like teaching, advocacy is a continuous exercise and skill that grows with time. One of the end goals for school advocacy is to increase funding to support the school library program, technology development, content, staff development for educators, digital resources, and initiatives.
How Can Librarians Advocate for Themselves and Their Students?
Leading librarians across the country are building relationships, changing perceptions, and sharing their stories. Discover just a few efforts you can start implementing today:
- Embrace chaos —"Most kids want to hold a fiction book, but they’re going to do their research on a laptop. So I’ve tried to purchase that way—to purchase better digital databases for them to do their research on and then teach teachers about those resources.” Allison Long, Mooresville Middle School
- Zero in on outcomes — “What made the difference was being able to say, “I’m going to help you with your problem, and here’s what it looks like in the real world and why I’m doing this. I’m not doing this because I want new technology. I’m doing this because our kids need it.” Priscille Dando, Fairfax County Public Schools
- Connect to school leadership — "I was able to go in and co-teach, and we got the children in our learning management system that the county is pressuring us to use.” Linda Martin, Sugar Hill Academy of Talent and Career
The change—and the conversation—begins with each of us.