Advocacy or “Hey Look We Do More Than Shelve the Books!”
Advocacy in the library media center has never been more important that it is in the 21st century. In reviewing the readings for this week, it is very evident that the library media specialist must play a larger role in our education system by partnering with other educator and administration to create a strong community of learners and educators. As it was pointed out in Empowering Learners, the media specialist must play a global role within the school in order to advocate for change. Partnering with other educators and ensuring that library services are known and championed not only within the school building, but within the community is key to awareness of the role the media center plays in student success.
As I’m starting in a new position as a library media specialist in the fall, I found the reading by Woolls to be very timely and helpful as I step into my new role. It is helpful to think of the library as a business and most businesses will fail in fairly short order if they do not provide items that the customers want and if they don’t provide exceptional customer service. I’m stepping into a role where unfortunately, advocacy through good customer (teacher/student/administrative) relationships was not cultivated by my predecessor. As my former colleague and I rotated on a weekly basis between two school, I was often struck by how often teachers would come to me searching for materials, but would not as readily ask my former colleague for the same help. So, in moving forward, it is imperative to me to make sure the library is a warm and welcoming environment to students and teachers alike. Removing the stigma of the library as a castle with the drawbridge closed is my most important job the first few weeks of school by championing the media center as a place where student/teacher input is always welcome and as a resource for everyone in the school building, not just the students who come to the center at their regularly scheduled times.
Woolls also points out the importance and need for involvement in leadership and professional associations. As most school library media specialists are the sole person in their role in a school, it is important to be involved and active in these associations both at the local, state, and national level to move the profession forward as an integral part of the education system. Membership in these types of associations exposes media specialists to new ideas and information as well as being a force in driving school library media programs forward. As a member of MASL, I find the information I gain from being part of this association invaluable each year.
Nancy Dowd, begs the question by Seth Godin, “will they miss you if your are gone in ten years”? I think not if we as library media specialists don’t advocate for change now! With the availability of e-books and online content, we need to let go of the outdated idea that libraries are book repositories and embrace the rapid changes in the spread of information while realizing that even with information at our fingertips online, collaboration is just as important and doesn’t always happen behind the sterility of a computer screen. Libraries, as Godin points out needs to be a place where people come together to work, create, and invent, not just some dusty warehouse of print materials.
Buffy Hamilton reflects on Seth Godin also and I agree, that we need to stop thinking of the library as book driven and move forward to realize the library as a place of learning. Not simply learning from a text book, but a place of multiple literacies which is embedded in the community as a resource for all to collaborate. As she states a place to, “take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value.” After all that is the basic concept of learning. The ability to take information, make new connections and create a new outcome.
Gwyneth Jones covers creating a transparent media center program which is accessible through various web tools such as Wikispaces, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook. I find that having an easily accessible web presence is not just something nice to have, but absolutely imperative in today’s highly mobile society. While, she notes an on again off again relationship with Facebook, it is important to realize the advocacy power of this particular social network. In looking at Facebook’s recent statistics, there were 901 million monthly active users at the end of March 2012. To ignore this vast customer base would be foolish at the very least. While Facebook is one option for creating a web presence, it should not be the only option. Libraries need to utilize as many of these tools as possible to reach their users in the most convenient way possible for those users. This idea is highlighted by Sara Johns, who used the online tool Animoto to create a video highlighting the exciting things going on in her library and used this tool to share her and her student accomplishments with her administration, students, staff, and parents. The use of this type of technology in promotion of the library program is something every librarian should be doing to maintain the connection between the library and stakeholders in the advancement of library programs everywhere.
Finally, Doug Johnson points out several key reasons why he maintains memberships in ALA and AASL, one of which, well two of which are that by paying his dues, also gives him the right to voice his complaints and concerns. I find this amusing and so true as I am a member of several professional organizations in my other life as a glassblower. I am continually amused when I hear complaints about one organization or another by non-members and think to myself, “be part of the solution, not part of the problem” and get involved in the association by becoming a member and advocating for change instead of standing on the outside and beating on the windows, so to speak.
Dowd, Nancy. “The ‘M’ Word – Marketing Libraries: Godin, Gutenberg and Going Forward.” New Marketing Trends 14 May 2011. 27 May 2011. <http://themwordblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/godin-guttenberg-and-going-forward.html>.
Empowering Learners, Guidelines For School Library Media Programs. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians, 2009. Print.
Hamilton, Buffy. “Are Librarians, Not Seth Godin, The Ones Missing the Point on Libraries?” The Unquiet Librarian 16 May 2011. Web. 27 May 2011. <http://theunquietlibrarian.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/are-librarians-not-seth-godin-the-ones-missing-the-point-on-libraries/>.
Jones, Gwyneth A. “ Transparency is the New Black.” The Daring Librarian. 3 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 June 2012. <http://www.thedaringlibrarian.com/2012/04/transparency-is-new-black.html>.
Johns, Sara K. “Guest Post: Visibility Works!” Make Some Noise! School Library Journal, 9 Mar. 2012. Web. 01 June 2012. <http://blogs.slj.com/make-some-noise/2012/03/09/visibility-works/>.
Johnson, Doug. “BFTP: Why I Belong to ALA/AASL.” The Blue Skunk Blog. 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 June 2012. <http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2012/4/14/bftp-why-i-belong-to-alaaasl.html>.
Woolls, Blanche. The School Library Media Manager. 4th ed. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. 279. Print.