Everyday Advocacy – ALSC Offers TASL a Model

by Dorcas Hand, Editor of TASLTalks and retired TX school librarian

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is a division of the American Library Association that offers all youth librarians a variety of free resources – check out the ASLC website.

Even more useful is their Everyday Advocacy page.
We’ll talk about the EA Challenge in a minute – but first, let’s spend that minute on the four foci of ALSC’s advocacy effort: Be Informed, Engage with Your Community, Speak Out, and Get Inspired. These are really the same foci TASL Talks works to encourage with its variety of advocacy ideas from many voices.  

Here is a wider view to use for ideas.
Be Informed: The Everyday Advocate – YOU! And more
Get Inspired: Your Advocacy Stories and Model Administrator Advocates (Remember to look at TASL Administrator of the Year honorees in recent years for examples to use with your district leadership.)

Everyday Advocacy Matters offers you a FREE newsletter with updates and ideas, once a month. Take full advantage. Even though this is aimed at public librarians, there is much here that we in the schools can adapt to our own campus and district situations.

And now, finally, let’s look closely at the 2017 EA Challenge, a 4 step effort to raise personal advocacy efforts. While the some of the dates of the EA challenges have passed, the challenges themselves will work nicely for Texas school librarians who want to engage in the state legislative process, now in session.

Week of Tuesday, January 10: Write a brief elevator speech to introduce yourself to a local elected official - no more than a sentence or two—to help you introduce yourself to your library community's alderman, the town mayor, or local government staff members. You’ll be able to use this with everyone from School Board members to state legislators.

Week of Tuesday, January 17: Deliver your introductory elevator speech to a local elected official or staff person. Make a phone call or in-person visit to a local official's office to introduce yourself, including the elevator speech you wrote during Week One. 

Week of Tuesday, February 7: Send a handwritten note to a local elected official or staff person. Send it to that same official with information about how your library supports student progress. It’s great to invite them to visit – but that may be complicated by important campus administration permissions. Don’t let that stop you – be in touch with positive insights into your program. Sort snippets the official(s) can use in their thinking and future speaking engagements. Or send it to several people! 

POST CARDS are best – they don’t get hung up in envelope inspection for untoward contents. Possibly, print the postcard with a photo of students engaging with library resources – and explain the scene in your note. Have students draw images for you! 
Why a handwritten note? Given the large amount of phone calls and e-mails your elected officials receive, your personalized note on a creatively designed card is sure to stand out.
Week Four is not yet posted, but Week 3 hinted that it will suggest you engage with your community by inviting kids and grown-ups to share the reasons why they love your library and make sure that love gets noticed.

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is a division of the American Library Association, like the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Both groups do work in behalf of youth librarians across the country, in schools and public libraries. The third ALA youth partner is the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) which also offers useful resources – but that’s for another day and blog post. Membership in these organizations offers a high return on investment in professional support and development tools – if you can possibly afford to join, do. Yes, some of our membership dues support the many youth librarians who cannot join – but more members will always be better. Think about it.
I do understand that, in this era where our school library jobs are not secure, you may not feel that these dues are in your budget. I get it. You should still check out the resources available without charge to anyone who visits the ASLC website. Bookmark it so you can find it easily, as often as you need a little kick of new ideas or inspiration. Yes, YOU are the BEST ADVOCATE for your library. SPEAK UP OFTEN, to everyone about why your library, your teaching skills and your energy matter to all the students on your campus but especially those who do not have books or internet access in their homes.

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