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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Blogger Advocacy and Legislation Committee, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 19 of 19
1. Did You Know This is Advocacy? Early Literacy Programs

If you are anything like me, the first time someone asked you to be an advocate for the library you pictured attending some kind of librarian rally event, writing letters to congressmen, and making super scary presentations to library administration and other stakeholders. While all of these things are certainly advocacy, they were intimidating and sounded like they might take more time than I had. However, after becoming acquainted with Everyday Advocacy and doing a lot of thinking, I realized a lot of what I did every day was actually advocacy. Today, I’ll share an example of an early literacy program that I think of as developmentally appropriate advocacy.

baby face

In 2014, as a result of a random article from the internet and encouragement from many librarian friends, I gave Baby Storytime caregivers washable markers and oil pastels to use to decorate their babies’ faces (read more about the activity here). Every Child Ready to Read tells that practicing reading, singing, talking, writing, and playing with children every day helps them get ready to read. This activity encourages caregivers to talk to their babies and use vocabulary they might not typically use (how often do you talk about diabolical eyebrows with a baby?), caregivers are modeling writing, and are being extremely playful. This activity also encourages caregivers to photograph their babies and post these images on their Facebook pages or send them to family showing off what they did at the library today. This activity entered the regular rotation for an after storytime activity.

How is this advocacy? Caregivers learned, or had reinforced, the notion that the library is not a boring place just for reading and books. They learned that early literacy can be more than sharing books and that they have the tools already to help their child develop early literacy skills. They told all their friends that the library is a cool place because of this activity and others like it. Caregivers hated missing storytime because they were afraid to miss out on their favorite activities. Whenever we needed storytime participants to fill out surveys or comment cards they were more than happy to help. They would do anything to make sure storytimes continued and that storytime presenters were appreciated.

Do you have dedicated storytime families? Are your storytimes growing as a result? Do your storytime families help spread the word about the awesomeness of the library? If yes, congratulations, you are an advocate!

We would love to hear your stories! Matt McLain detailed in a previous Advocacy and Legislation blog, “Did You Know This Is Advocacy”, just how important these stories are personally, locally, and even nationally. Please take a moment to submit your advocacy story to the Everyday Advocacy website.


Kendra Jones is the Youth & Family Services Coordinator for the Timberland Regional Library in Washington State and a member of the ALSC Advocacy & Legislation committee. She is also a member of the Managing Children’s Services committee and Co-Chair of the Diversity within ALSC Task Force.

The post Did You Know This is Advocacy? Early Literacy Programs appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Did You Know this Is Advocacy: In the Schools

It’s a busy time of year for library advocates, with National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) right around the corner on May 2–3. Even if you don’t have the time or the resources to head to Washington for the day itself, you can participate in Virtual Library Legislative Day (VLLD) activities during the week of May 2–6 (for details, check out the Everyday Advocacy website).

Advocacy Begins at Home

Advocacy stories write themselves every day as school librarians do their jobs

Advocacy stories write themselves every day as school librarians do their jobs

As the excitement over NLLD and VLLD build, however, it’s important to remember that big, visible campaigns like these are only one small piece of advocacy, and that much, much more is being done on the ground everyday by librarians simply doing their jobs. Ultimately, advocacy means convincing others of the value of library services to children, and we can all do that just by providing great service—and by ensuring that our bosses, administrators, boards, etc. know about it.

As a solo school librarian with no support staff in a school where only 20% of the student body is reading at or above grade level, the last thing on my mind on a day-to-day basis is advocacy. My number-one, almost obsessive mission is getting my students to read. One way I do this is by keeping the library open after school so parents can drop in with their children to have a little quiet reading time together. This hasn’t been a hugely popular program, but it doesn’t really cost me much effort (I stay late to shelve anyway), and the unintended rewards have been huge.

My most regular after-school customer last year was a fourth-grade girl I’ll call Jane. Her mother brought her by one afternoon and asked if it would be OK if Jane used my after-school hours to sit and do homework and read quietly. It was too chaotic at home, she explained. As a single mom, she found it hard to keep Jane’s two much younger siblings quiet enough for Jane to focus on her reading or her work. I said, “No problem” (this being the abracadabra phrase of micro advocacy), and thus, Jane became my companion every afternoon for the rest of the school year. This didn’t require much effort on my part. She would sit and do her homework, and then dip into the collection, reading everything from picture books to graphic novels to nonfiction on just about every subject. Occasionally, I would suggest a book, but mainly, we worked in companionable silence. It was nice to have company during what is frequently a fairly lonely time of the day.

How Our Daily Tasks Become Advocacy

Where this becomes an advocacy success story is in my conversations with my principal. Obviously, I asked her for permission before taking Jane on for what was essentially free child care, and every so often, I would share anecdotes with her, mostly about how voraciously and broadly Jane was reading. Lo and behold, Jane came through with top marks across the board in the state exams, which the principal attributed to her time in the library. I personally think it had more to do with Jane’s native intelligence, natural curiosity, and strong work ethic, but I was happy to let my principal make assumptions. I am blessed with a very supportive principal, but in my world, keeping her happy is advocacy-goal number one. As with all New York City elementary schools, the decision to have a library rests entirely with the principal.

I’m sure that school librarians around the country all have their Janes—students they’ve helped in some, small way that in turn created ripples throughout their schools. We would love to hear these stories. As Matt McLain wrote in an earlier Advocacy and Legislation blog, “Did You Know This Is Advocacy”, these stories are crucial not just to your own, local advocacy efforts, but also on a much broader scale, as these stories are passed along to policy makers. Please take a moment to submit your school-library advocacy story to the Everyday Advocacy website.

Eileen Makoff is the School Library Media Specialist at P.S. 90 Edna Cohen School in Coney Island, Brooklyn, and a member of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee. 

The post Did You Know this Is Advocacy: In the Schools appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Time to Contact Your Senators #ESEA

Everyday Advocacy

Use the resources on the Everyday Advocacy site to help make your voice heard! Photo courtesy of ALSC.

Thanks, in no small part, to all of your calls and emails, the House of Representatives passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which will reauthorize the ESEA if approved. As mentioned in his blog post about the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) last month, ALSC President Andrew Medlar gave us the heads-up that this second call to action would be critical to ensure that a reauthorization includes these hard-fought school library provisions.

Now is the time for the final push! The Senate is expected to vote early next week and it is critical that both of your US Senators hear from you. Ask them to, “vote YES on the ESSA Conference Report” and take a moment to let them know how librarians and school libraries positively impact children’s lives and communities.

Visit ALA’s Action Center to locate your Senators and stay up to date on this historic vote. While you’re at it, head over to ALSC’s Everyday Advocacy page to find out more ways to make your voice heard on issues that matter.

Matt McLain is the Co-chair of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee.

The post Time to Contact Your Senators #ESEA appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. With Information Comes Advocacy

Last month, a cohort of ALSC members wrapped up the inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge. I was particularly interested in the 8-week Everyday Advocacy Challenge because it presented an opportunity to advocate while working in a non-library setting. What helped me feel comfortable was having information I eagerly wanted to share with others no matter the setting, and the #EAChallenge presented several opportunities for information-sharing.

In week 3, we were prompted to send an email to a local school or community-based organization presumably about our library’s services.  Admittedly, this was challenging since I don’t work in a library, so I tabled this challenge for a later date. However, upon reflection I realize that I visit my library almost weekly, and I subscribe to and read the library’s newsletter. I have access to local library-related information to discuss with schools or organizations, though it might not be as readily available as if I worked directly with patrons. I’ll be ready next time.

Week 4 challenged us to write or call our elected officials to talk about our work in libraries. Some participants said, and I agree, that this challenge is much easier when there is a specific issue to discuss. So, I went straight to the District Dispatch website to learn about a current issue that ALA is supporting. I read about the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and tailored my letter to that bill.

For the fifth week, our prompt was to talk up the EA challenge with a colleague. Sometimes my face-to-face interaction with library colleagues is limited but this did not stop me from talking up the challenge. I found it easy to talk about the challenge when friends asked what I’d been working on lately. I used this question as an opening to discuss the challenge. It helped to have examples of the advocacy work others are doing and current legislative work, so previous challenges came in handy.

Perhaps my favorite challenge was the last one, in which we were urged to read the October issue of Everyday Advocacy Matters. I had recently received the newsletter via email and glanced at it, but the challenge prompted me to go back for a closer read. I’m glad I did because the Everyday Advocacy Spotlight affirmed my thoughts about the challenge as a whole. The first tenet of Everyday Advocacy is Be Informed. Throughout the 8-week challenge having information about library issues helped me find my sweet spot – lifting the weight that I sometimes experience when thinking about advocacy work. Of course, advocacy work involves more than information-sharing but it is a desire to share information about issues important to me that drives me to champion, promote, or push for particular services and issue.

I hope others use the Everyday Advocacy Challenge and weekly Take Action Tuesday prompts to find an advocacy sweet spot. I especially hope others approach the challenge and prompts as an opportunity to be a library advocate no matter your workplace setting.


Africa Hands, MLIS, serves on the Advocacy and Legislation Committee and was a member of the inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge cohort convening from September 1-October 20, 2015. She’s on Twitter @africahands.


The post With Information Comes Advocacy appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Appreciating the Value of the Library

As an outreach librarian, my role within the community is to spread the word about library resources, engage with kids and their families, and urge them to visit our libraries. Once a month I spend a day at a branch to keep up my skills and help out when staffing is low. This weekend, I had the pleasure of working a shift and interacting with a variety of people…

  • A five-year who got his first library card and took pride in printing his name on the back.
  • A family, recently moved from Mexico, who were delighted to hear about all of the (free) services for both adults and kids.
  • A long-time patron who enthusiastically educated another about the interlibrary loan process while in line at the accounts desk.
  • New parents who didn’t realize that our storytime audiences included babies.
  • Visitors to the area who stopped in to ask directions, and ended up lingering and getting library cards.
  • A teen, picking up his summer reading book (with three days to spare before the report was due), admitting his procrastination (“It is going to be a LONG weekend…!”).
  • Waiving a fine for an elderly man who had broken his hip, spent weeks in the hospital, yet was concerned about not returning his books on time.

With so much of my work life outside of library walls, it was humbling to experience the energy and diversity of the public library on a busy Saturday. It made me appreciate the users we have already cultivated and reignited my passion for communicating the value of the library to many more.


Today’s blogger is Robyn Lupa, writing on behalf of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation committee.

The post Appreciating the Value of the Library appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. The Washington Office

Before speaking with Marijke Visser, Associate Director of the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), I honestly had very little knowledge of what exactly was involved with the duties of the Washington Office staff other than advocating on behalf of ALA and libraries in general. In my usual over-imaginative fashion, I envisioned their days spent in conference rooms filled with charts (as seen in The American President), having power lunches (image courtesy of West Wing), and standing up for libraries using some incredibly uplifting call-to-action speeches (think Braveheart). While I’m sure these moments exist (or at least some version of them), talking with Marijke about the structure of the Washington Office and some of the exciting projects staff are currently exploring broadened my view of their work and inspired me to advocate for our profession with a renewed Scottish-like vigor.

As Marijke explained, the Washington Office is separated into two distinct offices: The Office of Government Relations and the Office for Information Technology Policy. When I thought of the Washington Office, I associated it with direct lobbying on the hill; The Office of Government Relations is the group that works to follow and influence legislation, policy, and regulatory issues on the hill. The Office for Information Technology Policy works with a variety of groups, such as the Department of Education and the SEC, on outward facing issues, such as issues supporting a free and open information society.

One way that the Washington Office, particularly the Office of Government Relations, helps to inform and influence legislation and policy is by identifying and building champions on key issues. This is one way that Marijke highlighted for ALSC members to help and become involved. Creating and nurturing strong relationships between legislative members and local librarians can provide opportunities for librarians to bring attention to key issues impacting library services to children while legislative members build connections on a local level and gain a more direct understanding and/or experience of how issues like literacy, media mentorship, or the digital divide are directly impacting youth. One example Marijke provided of this concept is an interest in how the digital divide is impacting disadvantaged teenagers. The Washington Office was able to connect interested legislative members with local librarians in their service area to discuss how the digital divide impacts teenagers and how libraries are able to help bridge the economic gap for this population.

Towards the end of our call, Marijke explained the Office for Information Technology Policy’s Policy Revolution! Initiative. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this initiative is in its second of three years. Described by Marijke as “shaking up how we do policy”, this initiative is designed to examine how libraries are branded to other organizations, look for more ways for their office to become proactive rather than reactive, and to build connections between agencies many people do not usually associate with libraries, such as HUD and Veterans Affairs. Ultimately the goal is to increase the perception of libraries as essential to policy and community conversations in a way that influences organizations to view library professionals as essential participants at the discussion table.

How does this apply to us? How can a little (seriously… I’m only 5’2”!) children’s librarian in Akron, Ohio stay current on legislative and policy issues? How can I best use this information to make a difference? Marijke suggested following the Washington Office’s blog, the District Dispatch. (http://www.districtdispatch.org/). You can sign up for news and alerts and locate a lot of other advocacy pages at http://www.ala.org/offices/cro/legislationandadvocacy/legislationandadvocacy. ALSC’s Everyday Advocacy website is essential for staying informed and inspired on all facets of advocacy. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out (what are you waiting for?!) you should stop what you are doing right now and visit it at http://www.ala.org/everyday-advocacy/. Also, reach out to your local, state, and national representation to share successes and challenges. While you may not need to directly advocate for an important issue today, building those relationships now may someday prove to be invaluable.

Libraries offer such a valuable service to the public, and librarians are consistently doing important work that directly improves the lives of children. I urge each of us (myself included) to remember the importance of our work on the toughest days and to channel our inner William Wallace (blue face paint is optional).


Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Today’s guest contributor is JoAnna Schofield, member of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee. JoAnna is a children’s librarian at the Highland Square Branch Library where she enjoys singing Laurie Berkner’s “I Know a Chicken” more than most people. She finds her greatest inspiration from her three rambunctious children, Jackson (5), Parker (4), and Amelia Jane (2). JoAnna can be reached at [email protected]. More than anything, she wants you to know if any information in this blog is not accurate, it is completely her misunderstanding and no fault of Marijke Visser. Marijke is truly lovely.

The post The Washington Office appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. Making Your Voice Heard: How to Participate in National Library Legislative Day from the Comfort of Your Desk

Ah, Spring! Flowers are blooming, the weather is finally grudgingly warming up…and at ALSC, planning is well under way for National Library Legislative Day. On May 4-5, library advocates from across the United States will travel to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of issues librarians hold near and dear to our hearts.

Of particular interest to ALSC members is the advocacy that is being done on behalf of school libraries. As the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions works on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA–the rebranded No Child Left Behind Act), ALA is pushing for amendments that will mandate effective library programs in every school. In other words, by federal law, every student will have access to a school library that is staffed by a certified librarian, equipped with up-to-date materials and technology, and enriched by a curriculum jointly developed by the school’s librarian and teachers. Another push is for legislation that will permit state program funds to be used to recruit and train school librarians.

In addition, ALA is supporting the President’s budget request of $186.6 million for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and maintaining the fiscal year 2015 level of funding ($25 million) for Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL), a grant program for school libraries. Half of all IAL funding provides school library materials to low-income communities, while LSTA is used to target library services to people of many geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, to disabled individuals, and to people with limited literacy skills.

Clearly, these are important causes. I would like to say that if I knew my presence in Washington, D.C. could guarantee an effective school library in every school in the country, I would start walking that way right now. And while I won’t actually be able to make it this year, I know that I can be there in spirit, and that my voice will be heard, thanks to the power of Virtual Legislative Day. Very soon, a toolkit will be ready that will enable you to participate in Legislative Day from your computer keyboard. Keep an eye on the Everyday Advocacy site, where, in the next day or two, you’ll be able to find templates for writing your representatives and senators, talking points so that you can call your representatives and senators, and ready-to-post social-media messages, all in one easy-to-use package.


Today’s post was written by Eileen Makoff, a librarian at P.S. 90 Edna Cohen School in Brooklyn, for the Advocacy and Legislative Committee of ALSC.

The post Making Your Voice Heard: How to Participate in National Library Legislative Day from the Comfort of Your Desk appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Still Building!

We librarians are still building our Everyday Advocacy muscles, but we need to add one other thing to the mix, diversity. How can we as librarians connect advocacy and diversity? The talk of the day, the happening of our time, the attention grabber of our consciousness is the conversation taking place currently about diversity. The events in Ferguson, Missouri and similar events in other locations, the insensitive remarks spoken at a National Book Award event honoring Jacqueline Woodson and the on-going We Need Diverse Books campaign are stories which have captured our attention.

At breakout sessions during an ALA Midwinter meeting on diversity sponsored by the Children’s Book Council and ALSC, some takeaway ideas included the following:

  • Use parents and caregivers as resources.
  • Create virtual programs to reach untapped communities.
  • Develop partnerships which are crucial.
  • Create more diverse books.
  • Contact Barnes and Nobles to suggest a list of books that are not on its shelves, and then ask why.
  • Go to patrons wherever they are.
  • Be a change and a leader in your community

Issues raised during the meeting included: There should be more diverse staffing at publishing companies, there should be more characters with disabilities in literature for children. Jason Low of Lee and Low Publishing, suggested that a diversity problem is a cultural problem. Librarians asked these questions: How do you create a more diverse library? How do you reach out to diverse communities? ALSC and the CBC asked librarians in attendance,   what are some gaps you think we can fill? There were even more questions. One of the speakers asked the audience, what changes are you willing to make as librarians? When will you make a change, in one week, one month, one year?

There are many unanswered questions. There are even some final questions to ask ourselves: What are some of the challenges that your library is facing concerning diversity? What are the gifts you bring to the conversation? Gifts is a key word here.

We librarians bring our gifts every day to the jobs we do as librarians. It is part of the everyday advocacy that empowers us. Conversation is the thing that is being added to the mix, and the thing that will ultimately bring closure to the unanswered questions.


Today’s blog post was written by Barbara Spears, a member of the ALSC  Advocacy and Legislation Committee.

The post Still Building! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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9. A Prescription for Reading

Sharing books with very young children is important. The simple act of reading aloud to them, consistently, builds their language and socio-emotional skills. Children who enter kindergarten with these skills in place are most likely to thrive.

Libraries have, for years, acted on this knowledge in order to help children get ready for kindergarten.

Last summer, The American Academy of Pediatrics, partnering with Reach Out and Read, began encouraging parents to read, talk, and sing during early childhood checkups:

“With the increased recognition that an important part of brain development occurs within the first three years of a child’s life, and that reading to children enhances vocabulary and other important communication skills, the group, which represents 62,000 pediatricians across the country, is asking its members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud, every time a baby visits the doctor.”

This endorsement of reading is an excellent opportunity for advocacy. Invite caregivers to baby and toddler storytimes. Tell them that library staff carefully plan 15-20 minute sessions with a blend of books that are just right for the age group with songs, activities, and opportunities to move. Not only do the kids soak up the experience – adults also participate in the rhymes and bounces, bonding and learning fun things to try at home. What a perfect chance for babies – and caregivers – to make new friends. And leave with a wonderful impression of the library and how it directly benefits their lives.


Robyn Lupa, Coordinator, Kids & Families at the Jefferson County Public Library (Colorado) wrote this post for the Advocacy and Legislation Committee.

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10. Wearing our Library Hats

I am privileged to coordinate a team of outreach staff who give over 120 storytimes each month in preschool and Head Start classrooms. We also visit babies and toddlers at private and in-home daycares to provide early literacy-based sessions for the kids and model new techniques for their caregivers.

While recently observing a storytime conducted by one of my team members, I was struck by the wrapt attention demonstrated by adults in the room. While my staff is ostensibly providing a single service for a primary audience – preschoolers and their caregivers – they also, though these interactions, stand as advocates for the resources available within our system. In my role, I encourage staff to interact with adults as much as possible and be well versed in their ability to communicate all of the offerings at our libraries – especially those that can empower parents. This advocacy has proven to be effective, as it encourages our citizens to be empathetic to the importance of the library in the lives of kids. This then garners greater possibility for their financial support or support via a vote.

Not only do my team members do this on a professional level, but it carries over to their interactions with people at the grocery store, at church, playing with their own kids at parks, and while socializing at parties. We are ambassadors of the library by spreading the joy of the opportunities available, for free, to all. Everyone in the library family is an advocate, even in their daily activities. That’s the kind of grassroots support that is effective. No matter where we go, we are wearing our library hats!


Robyn Lupa, Coordinator, Kids & Families at the Jefferson County Public Library (Colorado) wrote this post for the Advocacy and Legislation Committee.

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11. Creating Life-Long Library Advocates

I was on Facebook the other day and many of my library friends were posting an article from the Atlantic Monthly called, “Millennials Are Out-Reading Older Generations.” Interested, I read the article and was excited to see that the millennial generation loves reading. The article shares the results of a Pew research report that studied the role of the influence of libraries on young readers, ages 16-29. “Eighty-eight percent of Americans under age 30, read a book in the past year, compared with 79% of those age 30 and older” and they also used the library slightly more than older adults. For a split second, I was ecstatic. I now, finally had proof that all my hard work as well as the hard work and tireless efforts of all my friends and fellow librarians who put in long days planning programs, recommending books, and advocating to parents and politicians, actually worked.

Then I read the following sentence: “At the same time, American readers’ relationship with public libraries is changing – with younger readers less likely to see public libraries as essential in their communities.” Only 19% of Millennials say that their local library’s closing would impact them, even though they are using the library as much as older patrons.

Before we throw our hands in the air and call in sick tomorrow, let’s take another look at the facts. We have created a generation of readers who use the library and are reading and utilizing the library more than the generation before them. Unfortunately, they just don’t understand the importance of the library to themselves and to their community.

As everyday advocates, we can fix that. Children do not have political power. They have limited say in decisions affecting their lives, but as we can see with this study, they are the future politicians, community partners, and parents with whom we will be advocating to justify our budget and staff. Instead of trying to convince adults to become library advocates, let’s focus on the youth to create life-long library advocates! As Children’s librarians, we have the unique ability to advocate from birth. The next time you are talking to caregivers about the importance of storytime, be certain to include the children in the discussion. When you find that perfect book for a child, remind them how the library is important to them. Sometimes, we focus so much on the political parts of advocacy, that we forget that it as simple as talking to a child. Who is with me?


Gloria Repolesk is a Children’s Librarian at the Emmet O’Neal Public Library. She is writing this blog post on behalf of the Advocacy and Legislation Committee.

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12. District Days

Until September 7th, members of Congress will be at home tending to their constituents.  This time period, known as “District Days,” is a good time to touch base with both your Representatives in the House and your Senators to let them know about the importance of the work you do every day.

I know that most of you are tired, your Summer Reading program has just ended or is ending very soon and the start of the new school year is fast approaching, but here are some simple (and not so simple – for the energetic) things you can do:

  • If your summer reading challenge hasn’t ended yet and a big party to celebrate another successful summer is in the works, invite your legislators to it.  If it is over but you are hosting another event before Sept. 7th, invite them to that event.  You can find contact information for members here. The YALSA District Days site has some great information on how to plan an event and make it effective.
  • If your summer reading program is over, bring a photo album over to local Congressional offices, or if that won’t work, send it to them. You can ask kids to help you make it!  Some things you might include are:
    • Photos (of course) and or links to videos taken,
    • Statistics detailing the number of participants and the number of days, minutes or pages read (whatever measurement you use),
    • Statistics detailing the number of programs presented and the number of participants who attended,
    • Information linking the types of programs offered to their educational value (i.e. STEM programs, early literacy storytimes, etc.). http://www.edutopia.org/stw-college-career-stem-infographic; digitalyouth.ischool.uw.edu and click on the “Project Views” link,
    • Information on summer slip
    • Stories or comments from patrons about why they love summer reading and/or the library.
  • Personalized stories and numbers make a great combination. If an album won’t work, ask patrons to send comments individually to their representatives about how essential public libraries are to their daily lives.
  • Remember to check with your library administrators before the outreach begins to make sure everybody is on the same page.

Finally, if it is too late to do any of the above, remember to mark your calendars for a date in early June 2015 so that you can plan to participate next summer.  And, as always, stay tuned to this blog and our Everyday Advocacy weekly challenges for other things you can do during the year to advocate for your library.


Today’s post was written by Helen Bloch, Librarian 2 in Children’s Services at the Oakland Public Library, for the Advocacy and Legislation committee.

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13. Confessions of a Lazy Advocate

When I first received the email asking if I could serve on ALSC’s Advocacy and Legislation Committee, I almost said no. It’s not that I feel that advocacy is unimportant. Quite the contrary, I’ve long romanticized advocacy. I had this vision in my head of the tireless, dedicated, and most of all, supremely well-informed volunteer, who spent her days storming Capitol Hill and her nights penning letters to Congress. As much as I admired all that, I was sure I could never be that person. My biggest fear was that I simply wasn’t well informed enough, and all my previous attempts to become better informed had left me drowning in a mire of acronyms and bill numbers. At the end of the day, however, I decided there was no better way to learn about something than to join a committee.

I very quickly learned two important facts that made the whole business much less daunting. First, you don’t have to join a protest on a weekly basis to be an advocate; you can fit it into your daily life quite easily. Indeed, as I discovered, I already am a powerful advocate. I am a school librarian, and a large part of what I would consider to be simply doing my job falls under the heading of advocacy. I keep my administrators and teachers informed about the value of the school’s library through a monthly newsletter. I keep parents informed through a website and periodic Family Reading Night events. And I push for our local public library at every opportunity, letting teachers, administrators, parents, and students know the value of their local branch.

Second, there is a well-developed and completely non-intimidating toolkit already out there for anyone interested in doing any advocacy. Candice Mack wrote about these resources in an excellent blog back in March: http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2014/03/everyday-advocacy-for-everyone/. I invite you to take a look. Two of my favorite tools are the website Everyday Advocacy, which provides tips for on-the-ground library promotion, and Take Action Tuesday, a column in Everyday Advocacy that gives the reader simple weekly suggestions.

Knowing about these tools didn’t necessarily mean I’d use them, however, and even as a committee member, I let the five months between Midwinter and Annual go by still in a state of guilt-ridden inertia. I knew I should be reading Everyday Advocacy, especially on Tuesdays, but somehow never quite remembered to do so. (Yes, I was getting all those helpful reminders through ALSC-l, but my inbox is so choked with mail from ALSC that it’s hard to focus on any one message).

On the plane back from Vegas, I realized I would have to plot my own escape from Newton’s First Law. What could I do to make everyday advocacy actually happen? First, I placed a repeating note in my calendar for every Tuesday at lunchtime to check Take Action Tuesday. Second, I bookmarked Everyday Advocacy in Symbaloo, which means that I can access it regardless of which electronic device happens to be holding me captive at any given moment. Third, I liked the ALSC blog on Facebook and added it (@alscblog) and the Everyday Advocacy content editor Jenna Nemec-Louise (@alajenna) to my Twitter feed. Call me superficial, but I’m much better at getting to social media than I am to my inbox.

Finally, since deep down inside where it really counts, I still have visions of being that woman storming Capitol Hill, I added the contact information for my national, state, and local representatives to my electronic address book, so that I can fire off impassioned emails at the touch of a button. You can find contact information for your senators at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm and for your representatives at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/. For local representatives just Google your state and local representative body (e.g., “New York State Assembly”); it should be easy to find the information from there. I also added a note in my calendar for early April to think about attending National Library Legislative Day, which takes place every year in early May in Washington D.C. This gathering is where ALSC members contact members of Congress personally to discuss why libraries provide vital services to all.


Eileen Makoff is a school librarian at P.S. 90 Edna Cohen School in Coney Island, NY. She is writing this blog on behalf of the Advocacy and Legislation Committee.

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14. Advocacy Update

Greetings, Everyone,

My time as chair of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation committee is drawing to a close. It has been a privilege to serve on the committee and to chair it for this year. As I prepare to move on to another appointment, I want to take this opportunity to say goodbye and to express how honored I feel to have worked with this fantastic team of advocates: Helen Bloch, Robyn Lupa, Candice Mack, Eileen Makoff, Jenna Nemec-Loise, Viki Ash and Joanna Ison. They share such a passion for children’s work and for advocating for services for young people. Congratulations to the wonderful Robyn Lupa who will become Chair at close of conference!

Toni Bernardi
San Francisco Public Library


Hello -

I’m excited to follow Toni’s lead and chair ALSC’s Advocacy and Legislation committee. Over the past ten months, I’ve had the privilege of helping to shape JCPL’s outreach service to kids and families. Dedicated to bringing the library to kids and caregivers, we also recognize how vital it is to communicate the value of literacy programs to our stakeholders. Along with a great team, I look forward to expanding our efforts on a local level and inspire others to make a difference!

Robyn Lupa
Jefferson County Public Library (CO)

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15. Building Relationships and Creating Partnerships

In our advocacy work, as librarians, we learn, share, create, publicize, organize, promote, advocate and make a difference. One way that we make a difference is by building relationships with our communities. The library gains much needed visibility by partnering with elected officials and various agencies in our local neighborhoods. Sometimes, however, the idea does not originate with us.

A local Prince George’s County Maryland, County Council representative  became passionate about an issue affecting his community located in the southern region of the County. He saw young children with time on their hands and without involvement with the branch of their public library. He saw hard working parents without transportation and a lack of financial resources to take their children to the library. He thought of the old fashioned bookmobile of his youth to correct the problem. He approached the director of the public library system, and through continued negotiating and advocating for a mobile library in the community, he touched a chord.

What started out as a simple idea evolved into a meaningful part of the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative. The County Executive’s objective for this major project, is to support not just one, but six neighborhoods that face significant challenges, and the vision is for great schools, safe neighborhoods, quality healthcare and an economy that thrives within each.

The public library now partners with County government agencies and the six inside the beltway neighborhoods. The “Curiosity Cube” a colorful cube shaped car with child oriented animals and cartoons is a fixture in the neighborhood that the County Council representative was initially passionate about, and the other neighborhoods. The vehicle is used to promote library services at family resource centers, community fairs, and day care centers, to name a few. Because of the visibility of the “Curiosity Car” in the neighborhood, a strong impression has been created, and a lasting relationship will be the result for the library.

In building relationships, we have to remember that it may not always be our idea, consequently we have to:

  • Stay open to new ideas
  • Be patient
  • Share the enthusiasm
  • Say yes, if in line with library priorities
  • Look for opportunities to negotiate
  • Focus on collaboration

What methods do you use to build relationships? Share your ideas in the comments below.


Today’s blogpost was written by Barbara Spears, a member of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation committee. Barbara worked for over 30 years in the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System as a children’s librarian and as a manager in three of its branch libraries. Currently retired, a passion for children and libraries is still a driving force in her activities. Having recently completed her dissertation, Barbara will graduate with an Ed.D in organizational leadership in June 2014.

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16. Together We Can Make a Difference

Imagine the impact if all of us who care about children and libraries arrived together in Washington urging our legislators to support the crucial work we do! Can’t make it to Washington? Neither can I. But you and I and children’s librarians everywhere can participate in Virtual Library Legislative Day (VLLD). Every one of us can let our Senators and representatives in Congress know how important we are to our communities and to our nation’s literacy. VLLD this year is May 6. No time on May 6 to write a note? Any day from May 5-9 will do. But let’s do it together on these days so our voices will be heard.

The ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee and ALSC’s Everyday Advocacy web site are supporting our members so that we can all participate in VLLD 2014. Find contact information for your Senators and Representatives at http://www.contactingthecongress.org/. Then, think about the issues that are most important to you. In the coming days, the Advocacy and Legislation Committee will be providing you with talking points on such issues as Library funding through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS); libraries, early learning, and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program; and support for school libraries in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Now, check our Everyday Advocacy VLLD page at http://www.ala.org/everyday-advocacy/take-action-vlld-14 for a growing wealth of resources.

Do your Senators and Representatives know that LSTA funds provide libraries with databases that are essential for students doing their homework and to citizens looking for help in writing resumes and finding jobs? Do they know that the IAL program is vital to students learning to function in the digital age? Will they support an ESEA bill that will maintain dedicated federal funding for school libraries and move us toward school libraries with state-certified school librarians in every public school? Do they know the work you are doing to prepare children for entering school and to foster literacy as they grow into lifelong learners?

Do your librarian colleagues know about VLLD? Perhaps not, but you can help spread the word to friends and fellow librarians. Through local listservs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media, you can help us swell the call for library support. The goal is to contact legislators between May 5 and May 9.

As funding for libraries is threatened, who among us cannot find five or ten minutes to let legislators know that our work is crucial to our country’s future? Participate in VLLD 2014. You’ll feel good about your participation. Together we can make a difference.


Rita Auerbach, member of the ALSC Board and of the Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award Committee, and the Co-Chair of the Pura Belpré 20th Anniversary Task Force, wrote this post on behalf of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee.


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17. Everyday Advocacy for Everyone!

Hey ALSCers! Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the whole library to provide excellent library services to patrons of all ages and it takes the whole library’s efforts to effectively advocate!

You and your colleagues work hard every day to improve the lives of your community members through the library services you provide. How much of that story is known to your community stakeholders, however? (Especially when it comes to budget renewal time?)

Some easy ways to toot your library’s horn and take action are available from the Everyday Advocacy site.

More ways to advocate are by following ALSC (@alscblog) and EveryDay Advocacy Member Content Editor (@ALAJenna) if you’re on Twitter. Be sure to use #EverydayAdvocacy and #TakeActionALSC when tweeting or retweeting.

There are also many useful advocacy resources available from the American Library Association’s general advocacy site, including a section titled Advocacy University, which breaks down advocacy resources by topic and by audience.

Topics include “Getting started as a library advocate,” “Budgets, funding & fundraising,” “Coalition building,” “Working with elected officials,” and more.

The Young Adult Library Services Association also provides tips and an advocacy toolkit, via their advocacy website. Advocacy tips on that website are broken down by the amount of time available to the advocate to spend on the advocacy activity.

Don’t wait for the crisis moment to share your stories of how your library changes lives every day. Celebrate your library’s awesomeness every day (or at least every week) with ALSC’s Everyday Advocacy and Take Action Tuesday tips!


Today’s blog post was written by Candice Mack. Candice is a Senior Librarian in Adult Literacy & Volunteer Services at the Los Angeles Public Library and a member of the ALSC Advocacy & Legislative Committee. Candice is also a member of the ALA Recruitment Assembly, the YALSA Board of Directors, and is a candidate for YALSA President-Elect, 2014-2015.

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18. Survey Says…

The Pew survey, How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities by Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie, Kristen Purcell and Maeve Duggan, was released on December 11, 2013, and it provides us with some solid food for thought with regard to advocating for the services that we provide.   It notes that Americans strongly value the role of public libraries within their communities, but also indicates some areas where we need to “get the word out,” so to speak.  Questions addressed in the survey included:

  • The importance of public libraries to their communities and the impact to family and community should the library close.
  • The importance of particular library services to the individual and his/her family.
  • How well-informed those surveyed felt about different services offered by their library.
  • How many had used a public library in the past 12 months.
  • How many have had a positive experience in using a public library.

While survey responses were mostly positive, there was variation as to the importance of specific services offered depending upon the group to which the respondent belonged.  Those of us who serve young people should note that parents with minor children were more likely to respond that many services offered by the library are “very important.”

As an advocate for library services in general and services to young people in particular, the response to the question “How well-informed do you feel about the different services your public library offers?” was the one that I found most frustrating and the one that seems to me to call out to us with regard to promoting and advocating for the services that we provide for our communities.  The report noted that 23% felt they knew most or all of what the library provided, 47% knew some, 20% indicated not much and 10% said that they knew nothing.

In effect, the survey indicates that the majority of people surveyed like their libraries, feel that they are valuable to the community, know where their library is located, and have used it within the past twelve months.  On the other hand, their knowledge of what the library offers in the way of services varies considerably.  So the question is; how do we more effectively advocate for and promote the services that we provide?

I encourage you to read the report and to view it from the perspective of your library and its services.   It does provide you with positive data about how Americans view their public libraries.  This is data that you may well be able to use as you talk with local government and other agencies about library service needs within your community.   It can be found at http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2013/12/11/how-americans-value-public-libraries-in-their-communities/.

Many thanks to Joanna Ison, ALSC Program Officer for Projects and Partnerships, for sharing the report with me.

Toni Bernardi

Chair, ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee

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19. Summer Reading as a Gold Mine for Advocacy

Summer is over and many of us breathe a sigh of relief as summer reading/learning programs end and we move on to the rhythms of the school year.  However, summer programs can be a gold mine for advocacy, not just during the summer but after the program ends as well. 

Think of all the information that we collect on what, for many of us, is the biggest library “production” of the year.  Most of you will have figures on books/hours read, programs offered and attendance at those programs, photos of children and parents enjoying themselves and engaging in informal learning at your library as well as a wealth of participant comments and stories.

How do you use this wealth of information?  Do you prepare a report for your Director and Board and put it all away afterward or do you connect it with data on summer learning loss and use it to advocate for the incredible benefit that your library provides to your community?  If the latter, how are you doing that?  I would love to have you share some of the ways that you use your summer reading program and data to advocate, whether you create a series of bookmarks from participant comments, post photos to social media or create FAQ sheets to distribute to your town’s movers and shakers. 

This blog is not a forum for me to pontificate on advocacy.  Rather, I see it as an opportunity for me to throw out a question or subject and invite you to share your expertise and experiences with your peers.  It is an invitation for you to communicate with the ALSC membership, share your ideas and enrich the conversation.  It is your chance to provide a fellow children’s librarian with the perfect practical advocacy idea that he or she has been seeking.  So please join in the conversation.   We all look forward to hearing how you use that summer reading data!


Toni Bernardi
Chair, ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee

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