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School Library Advocacy

Page history last edited by Kathy 13 years, 5 months ago

School Library Advocacy


Advocacy Term Definitions

Advocacy Action Plan

Advocacy for Maryland School Libraries

Resources to Support Advocacy


 Advocacy Term Definitions (from AASL)


The AASL Advocacy Special Committee defines advocacy as an "on-going process of building partnerships so that others will act for and with you, turning passive support into educated action for the library media program. It begins with a vision and a plan for the library media program that is then matched to the agenda and priorities of stakeholders."


Public Relations (PR) - "One-way communication of getting the message across:"

  • who we are
  • what we do
  • when and where
  • and for whom


Marketing - "A planned and sustained process to assess the customer's needs and then to select materials and services to meet those needs."

  • know the customer's needs
  • who are they?
  • what do they need?
  • when and where can we best deliver it?
  • what are you willing to pay? ($)


Advocacy Action Plan


Program:  Elementary School Library Program


Target Audience:  Elementary Language Arts Teachers



 Language Arts Teacher Agenda
School Library Agenda                 
Teach required curriculum
Collaborate on curriculum
Build critical thinking skills                  
Provide help and tools for all readers
Advanced scores on Reading MSA
Increase teacher use of school library


Proposed Activities:

  • A lunch bunch for reluctant readers three times a week
  • Collaboration on folktales unit, poetry unit, and text feature unit
  • School librarian emails monthly book titles and other resources that match current units being taught in language arts




High School Collaboration Action Plan - The linked action plan outlines a strategic semester-long goal of collaborating with two teachers and then presenting projects and results to the school faculty with the intention of increasing interest in school library collaboration.



Advocacy for Maryland School Libraries


The School Librarian is in charge of promoting their library, resources, materials, and technology.  Several promotional opportunities are reflected throughout each county's school libraries:

  • Media Festival- Held in April to celebrate students’ photography, video and computer design.
  • School Library Media/Poetry Month- activities that correlate with library instruction to encourage student’s love of reading.  “A list of proposed activities must be submitted to the Library Supervisor by the end of January.”
  • Teen Tech Week - Sponsored by the Yalsa in early March 
  • School Web Site- to promote and publicize school library
  • Black Eyed Susan Award and Maryland Children’s Book Award- Contests that offers three levels of participation for grades K-12.
  • Read Across America- Celebrate the love of reading and Dr. Seuss’ Birthday on March 2nd
  • National Book Week- i.e.- Banned Book Week, Teen Read Week, etc.
  • Book Fairs- Promote reading through Scholastic Book Fairs.


Maryland Professional Development Opportunities

  •  SoMIRAC (State of Maryland International Reading Association Council)- One conference per year, in the spring.  Reading specialist will be your best assets.
  •  MASL (Maryland Association of School Librarians’) - One conference per year, in the Fall.


Carroll County Library Handbook, section VI



Resources to Support School Library Advocacy


@ your library Campaign for School Librarians Research (from AASL)

The research conducted by AASL in conjunction with their advocacy program "@ your library," revealed that many parents and community members do not view school librarians as anything more than someone who provides assistance to students when needed. Some important points about what the researchers found:

  • Many parents and students, while they acknowledge the importance of school librarians, view their role as more of a support role rather than a knowledgeable professional.
  • Most teachers, parents and students feel that school librarians are more important to education in elementary and middle schools. 
  • The school librarians at the secondary level are viewed, by many students and parents, as unnecessary because older students are expected by teachers to be independent researchers.
  • Many parents still view school librarians' role as "reactionary" (22) and they don't see the need for the librarian to be an instructional partner with the teachers.  


"The Evolution of the Librarian as Advocate" by Ann Martin (from Knowledge Quest)

This article lists the five actions librarians take to be the strongest advocates for their own school libraries. For each of the actions, Martin provides examples of successful advocacy programs.

  • Validate - School Librarians must make students, teachers, administrators, and community members aware of their programs. At Deep Run High School in Virginia, where the school librarian, the library reading club, the art department, and the English department collaborated to create a Renaissance Fair. Community members were invited to attend and the school librarian promoted the event through the news, school website, and the school newspaper.  
  • Anticipate - To anticipate the needs of the library patrons, school librarians must remain abreast of current news and trends within the school library circuit, especially in regards to information technology. Membership in professional organization and subscriptions to professional journals and magazines are essential for the school librarian to stay connected to "new local, state, and federal instructional mandates" (18).  
  • Lead - A school librarian who is also considered an instructional leaders by his or her colleagues, students, and parents will automatically succeed at advocated for his or her school library. A librarian who is also a leader should feel comfortable with involving teachers and students in the library evaluation process so that they understand the role that the library plays in the school.  
  • Understand - School librarians must understand their patrons' needs. If a librarian is meeting those needs, he or she is more apt to advocate for the effective use of his or her library. At James River High School in Virginia, the school librarian hosted a "Lunch in the Library" series. The librarian invited guest speakers to explain how curriculum indicators are connected to real-life experiences. The teachers who observed this series were much more apt to collaborate with the librarian because they recognized how invested the school librarian was in understanding their students' needs.
  • Educate - If a school librarian is also an effective teacher, he or she is very able to advocate for the school library because the librarian will be able to make those personal connections with the students, thus encourage their use of the library and their literacy growth. By using the materials and classes provided through professional organizations, school librarians will maintain a high level of effectiveness as a teacher and an advocator.  


"Proficient Readers Need Good School Libraries"  by Gaby Chapman (from Education Week)

*This article is listed as a resource on the School Library Media page on fcpsteach, the curriculum site for Frederick County.


In this article, Chapman cites the need for libraries to be of primary importance to increase proficiency in reading across the nation's students. In particular, Chapman encourages the following groups to promote the importance of a school library to its students through a number of actions:


The Federal Government:

  • set standards that include school libraries
  • in order for schools to "qualify for federal funding," (23) they need to include a plan to maintain or increase the library's budget
  • allow increased tax deductions to encourage donations from private donors


School Accreditation Agencies:

  • "make high-quality libraries a necessary part of their accreditation decisions" (23)
  • designate a quality school library as a necessary piece of the accreditation process



  • when visiting schools during back-to-school night and conferences, make sure to visit the school library
  • understand that a good library is one that "values literacy and puts kids first" (23) 


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