By Naomi Bates
There’s a special time during the school year that educators, administrators and librarians look forward to with joy, happiness, and longing. No, it’s not bad weather days (although those are nice too) but the week of, “I’m need this or I’m going to die!” affectionately known as spring break. It’s around the corner for most of us and although it is a time to relax, it can also be a time to advocate for school libraries without being at school. Virtual media and collaboration are ways you can take a tiny amount of time during the week to make a huge difference.
Advocacy isn’t just about deluging people information about the importance of school libraries and librarians (although we need do this to key decision makers ANY TIME the topic of school libraries/librarians is on the table in Austin). Advocacy can also happen through creating/updating quality virtual presence. Here are a few ways advocacy can be done in a short amount of time while enjoying those days off:
- Advocate via online sources (blogs, listservs, curation sites): If you have a blog, update it to give back to your virtual community about what librarians do above and beyond what most people stereotypically think we do. Librarians have excellent creativity, so show this by sharing through online sites like Pinterest or even staying active on listservs. Not everyone has the same spring break, and they can still learn with those that are.
- Advocate via online PLCs (Personal Learning Community): a lot of librarians connect with not only each other but teachers and administrators in the state and national through Twitter and Facebook. Stay connected through Twitterchats and Facebook updates. If you know the topic beforehand, take time to get prepared and share important lesson ideas, tools, and the importance of school libraries/librarians with everyone out there.
- Advocate via virtual bookshelves: If you have a Shelfari or Goodreads, take time to update it not only with titles, but also with short reviews to help guide readers in and out of your campus through your virtual presence. There will be readers out there who are looking for something great to read during the week and you may be that tipping point directing them to the next great book! Look at book trailers and reviews online yourself and make comments and share them with students, teachers, colleagues.
- Advocate through future planning: If you’re in a Texas library, you know that TLA conference is coming up! Take some time to download the TLA 2015 app to get ready for all the great presentations/workshops that go along with the conference. Also look at what else is going on during the summer like the ALA conference, TLA Annual Assembly, summer staff developments and edcamps you can not only attend but advocate through presenting and teaching.
- Advocate locally via email: While the legislature considers Texas State Library Budget Request funding THIS WEEK, it’s never too late to let state representatives know the importance of school library funding. Take time and do this online quickly and easily. One voice may not stand out, but thousands will make a difference, so be a part of it. Link to the TXLA Support Learning and Economic Development page and voice your support for school librarians.
Enjoy those days off! Travel, sleep late, stay up late, watch movies, play with family and friends. Spring break is a time to recharge. But think about taking 15-20 minutes out of the 168 hours you have to do some advocating about how important we are, and above all, be safe! See you in April for TLA!