The School Library Advocate's Summer Reading List.
As librarians reflect on the past school year and create or write their annual library reports, they are likely very proud of the good work they have done with students and teachers. At the building level, they know they have made valuable contributions to helping students learn and teachers teach--their primary focus. However, how effective have librarians been in reaching out beyond the school building to communicate to others how critically important it is for schools to have well-resourced school libraries with appropriate staffing? Without such resources as facilities, staff, and budgets, library programs and librarians could not be active components of the teaching and learning process. Librarians may wonder if decision makers who control the resources to maintain a library program know about and recognize the value of those contributions to the learning culture of the school and its educational program. Questions to ponder include:
* Does the principal realize how the library helped to achieve his/her building goals this year?
* Do district administrators know how the library contributed to student learning?
* Is the library perceived as disconnected from building and district initiatives--something nice to have, but not essential?
* Is there a threat that the library program could be defunded or staffing cut?
If you responded no to one or both of the first two questions and yes to one or both of the last two questions, it's time to do some summer professional reading to boost your advocacy game plan for 2019-2020. Here are my top recommendations, authored by experienced school library colleagues who embed research and best practices to offer workable advocacy and leadership ideas and solutions for busy school librarians.
Leading for School Librarians: There Is No Other Option by Hilda K. Weisburg
While the entire book is worth the read, Part II, "Building Your Leadership Skills" (pp. 55-94), will help school librarians build confidence and scaffold actions to illustrate the value of the school library. Some librarians may feel powerless to facilitate or enact change with the schedules, budgets, and other work-related circumstances in which they work. Some begin to devalue their expertise and skill sets that they spent years honing. This book will help you recognize and embrace your talents and abilities and take stock of your "tool box," while illustrating how to use them to improve relationships with students, teachers, administrators, board members, and others.
Weisburg, utilizing French and Raven's five types of social power, illustrates how school librarians do have power to persuade and advocate, if they use it. She gives librarians a much-needed pep talk, sharing how and when librarians can use their social power to influence and lead others. Beginning with low- to no-risk programming, she provides ideas that librarians can easily embed in their practice to build leadership recognition. Teachers, administrators, and others with whom librarians work and interact will begin to defer to that expertise and follow the librarian's leadership.
Recommended for: Newbies and/or librarians who feel undervalued
One useful idea: Take an honest inventory of your habits to discover "squandered time" and prioritize tasks. "Your primary tools should not be duct tape and a fire extinguisher!" (p. 84).
Best quote: "Developing a good idea and having the skills to execute it won't make you a leader if no one is joining in. You need to cultivate followers and you do it most often by using your power" (p. 73).
Maximizing School Librarian Leadership: Building Connections for Learning and Advocacy by Judi Moreillon
The strength of Moreillon's book lies in guiding librarians through the process of creating and leading a collaborative school culture in which teachers and principals become strong advocates for school libraries. Emphasizing the instructional role of the librarian, Moreillon aligns her work with the Future Ready initiative, focusing on the school and district levels where, she states, "there is the greatest opportunity and the most pressing responsibility to enact the transformation they [educators] want to see in the larger education environment" (p. 2).
In Chapter 8, "Leadership and Advocacy" (pp. 129-145), Moreillon presents the idea of creating an advocacy team, reaching beyond the school staff to build community alliances that influence and persuade decision makers responsible for enabling Future Ready learning in the school and library. Using her School Librarians' Public Relations, Marketing, and Advocacy Checklist (p. 136) as a self-assessment tool, school librarians will find ample examples of evidence and ways to advocate for the library program. This checklist is publicly available on a website she created to accompany the book at http://www. alaeditions.org/files/MoreillonWE/ Moreillon_Figure_8.2.pdf. Another useful example is Moreillon's Sample Advocacy Plan (p. 141), designed to address a well-crafted SMARTER goal that advocates for at least one full-time library paraprofessional in every school library.
This book would be an excellent choice for a library department's book study. The nine chapters easily align with studying one chapter per month during the school year and holding group discussions using the discussion questions, activities, and reflection prompts at the end of each chapter. Adding more value to this title are Moreillon's web extras, an online component found at http://www.schoollibrarianleadership.com/book-maximizing-school-librarian-leadership/, that includes some of the charts and graphics from the book, as well as short, value-added podcasts.
Recommended for: Librarians wanting to improve collaboration with teachers and principals
One useful idea: Use the Coplanning and Coteaching Assessment tool to self-evaluate your collaboration with classroom teachers (p. 32 and available at http://www. alaeditions. org/files/MoreillonWE/Moreillon_ Figure_2-4.pdf).
Best quote: "School librarians lead by building connections" (p. xiii).
Political Advocacy for School Librarians: Leveraging Your Influence by Ann Dutton Ewbank
Whether trying to influence local school boards and parents or state and federal legislators, this introduction to political advocacy is a must. Throughout, Ewbank emphasizes that librarians need to do their homework and understand what the policy makers they are addressing care about. Developing persuasive messaging that will resonate with policy makers "takes planning, implementation, time, and effort" (p. 21).
Ewbank demystifies the political process by explaining political advocacy and the power of persuasion. Chapter 5 on local advocacy, chapter 6 on state advocacy, and chapter 7 on federal advocacy end with sample case studies that include reflection/discussion questions. Using these case studies and question prompts with a group of colleagues and library advocates would be ideal for an afternoon coffee talk or pool party conversation.
Recommended for: New or experienced librarians who need background info on how to influence and persuade policymakers or elected officials whether at a local, state, or federal level
One useful idea: Ewbank explains the six hidden rules of government that are really about establishing integrity and building positive relationships with policy makers (pp. 8-9).
Best quote: "First, you must believe in something bigger than yourself. This is your vision.... Second, you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone" (pp. 17-18).
It is difficult to pick only three professional development resources for a summer advocate's reading list, but setting a reasonable and achievable professional development goal is critical to success. Studying sections of these three recommended and reviewed books can easily be realized--one book per month over the summer. Consider, if possible, creating a group of advocates to meet and discuss the sections read, thinking about how to implement some of the strategies. After all, advocacy is not a solo sport! You need people to work with, plan, create effective messaging, and build relationships. Gaining new understandings, dispositions, and skills, school librarians who engage in these summer readings will be energized and refueled for the 2019-2020 school year, enabling themselves to become stronger advocates on behalf of their students and schools.
Ewbank, A. D. (2019). Political advocacy for school librarians: Leveraging your influence. Denver, CO Libraries Unlimited.
Moreillon, J. (2018). Maximizing school librarian leadership: Building connections for learning and advocacy. Chicago, IL ALA.
Weisburg, H. K. (2017). Leading for school librarians: There is no other option. Chicago, IL Neal-Schuman.
Debra E. Kachel is an affiliate faculty for Antioch University Seattle's K-12 Library Media Endorsement program and an adjunct instructor for McDaniel College, Westminster, MD. She received the 2014 AASL Distinguished Service Award for her school library advocacy work. Her email is dkachel@ antioch.edu. Follow her on Twitter @ SchLibAdvocate.
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|Title Annotation:||ADVOCACY; Leading for School Librarians: There Is No Other Option; Maximizing School Librarian Leadership: Building Connections for Learning and Advocacy; Political Advocacy for School Librarians: Leveraging Your Influence|
|Author:||Kachel, Debra E.|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2019|
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