Clay Shirky’s book Here Comes Everybody reminds us that forces outside of education are driving changes throughout society.
How that trickles down to school libraries is the question? And how do we advocate for the “21st century” library?
Julia Keller had an interesting column in the May issue of American Libraries, “Killed By Kindness,” pointing out that we can’t simply advocate for libraries because of the warm fuzzy memories of the libraries of our past. (Since I misplaced my copy of the magazine at the pool, I’m working from memory, so I hope that attribution is correct!) We need to advocate for the libraries of today–an information commons for students filled with activities, technology use, reading, and connecting with people–a social information network area of sorts.
Fran has shared a great list of resources for library advocacy. But one of the most important things I’ve read regarding advocating for school libraries this year was Debra Kay Logan’s article in American Libraries’ January issue, “Putting Students First.”
Logan points out,
“To become effective advocates, our profession must shift the focus of our messages from speaking out about school libraries to promoting and supporting student learning and achievement. Student success is the business of school. Student learning is at the core of meaningful advocacy messages. To be effective school library advocates, we must advocate for students.”
She points out the importance of our stakeholders understanding the reasons to advocate for our programs–our customers need to see the value that is added.
One strategy she suggests is not just reporting data of achievements, but sharing student feedback and comments in their own words, frequently. When students and teachers know that you are not only interested in what they have to say about learning in the library, but that you are sharing it and honoring their statements, then it can be very powerful.
As Logan points out the benefit is also that: “When students are asked about what they learn and how they are going to use it after instruction, metacognition about learning takes place: students reflect on learning and its importance.”
Students are the point, after all. So, how can we make our library services more 2.0, and then how can we tell that story better?