Children’s Librarians are Experts at Partnerships: Meeting the Needs of Special Education Classrooms through Outreach and Advocacy

Last fall, I was approached by a teacher at Asbury Elementary, a public, K-5 school in my library’s service area, about bringing library resources into his special education classroom. As someone with almost no training in special education, forming this partnership has given me a greater awareness of how to best meet the needs of children who experience disabilities, both in the context of school outreach as well as in a traditional public library setting. I’m inspired to gather and share resources with my colleagues on how to effectively reach and serve children who experience a range of developmental, emotional, and physical disabilities, and how quality intersectional literature can aid educators and caregivers in understanding complex identities. Background Enacted in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establishes the provision of a free and appropriate public school education for eligible students ages 3–21. According to the The National Center…

A is for Advocacy #alsc18 #act4kids

First, this session was recorded and will be on the ALSC web site at some point.  I highly recommend taking an hour to watch it with your staff. Some takeaways that I wrote down from this session include: -Who is not being represented in the books that you share? -When doing outreach to diverse populations, focus on what’s working, rather than what’s broken.  Look for sustainable solutions. -Check your pronoun usage in programs, policies, interactions, and when sharing books. -Whose childhood matters?  African American children are thought of as more adult than white children at a younger age.  This means that people may let a 10 year old white child go for doing something childlike, but not an African American child for the same action. -Know your community.  Know your library.  Who are the community leaders?  Do they visit your library?  Why not? -You are a change agent.  Connect with…

Advocacy Resources: Helping You Tell Your Library’s Story

Midterm elections are right around the corner. For many of us, that means library advocacy is at the forefront of our minds. The ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee wants to make sure that you feel empowered and informed so you can advocate for yourself, your library, and the children and families you serve. Yes, it can seem daunting. But advocacy is something we library folk already excel at: sharing information and building relationships. Advocacy is all about helping your patrons and elected officials better understand your library’s role and value to community. But how do you start organizing all of that information? How do you tell your library’s story in a clear, engaging way? There are so many wonderful resources available to help you get started. However, it can feel overwhelming to slog through everything to find what you need. ALA’s Everyday Advocacy focuses specifically on library services to youth…

Summer Reading is Library Advocacy

Greetings from your Committee on Advocacy and Legislation! It’s August. For many public librarians that means an end to summer reading. Our daytime rush of readers slows and we begin our fall outreach into the many schools we serve. It’s a wonderful time of year, one full of high-fives and celebratory applause for the hard work our readers have done all summer long. Let’s reflect the achievements of our readers and its obvious link to advocacy work, both for us, the teachers, and the school librarians we serve. Highlights of my summer include the sense of accomplishment on the face of a reader who has finished their requisite number of books or pages. It takes determination for these kids, even when it’s fun. And if your library is like mine, the number of readers meeting their goals each year is growing. It’s obvious that for many kids our summer reading…

Advocacy: Think Nationally/Act Locally

Image courtesy of EveryLibrary.org Few of us have the opportunity to participate in ALA’s National Library Legislation Day—but did you know that very best and most effective library and political advocacy is actually local? Here are a few simple “how to’s” that will keep you in the know and build your knowledge and skills around advocacy… for national library legislation, for funding, and sensible Federal regulations that can have a powerful local impact. 1. Register to vote via your local Board of Elections. or by mail . Though many folks prefer not registering for a specific party (they like their Independent voter status) being a party member does allow you to vote in party primaries. 2. Vote in every election you can. If you cannot vote in person—be sure to secure an absentee ballot. (My Congresswoman in the NY–9 was primaried this year. I was able to vote before I left…

Serving on the ALSC Advocacy & Legislation Committee

After three years, my time on the ALSC Advocacy & Legislation Committee has come to an end. When I was first asked to serve on this committee, my initial reaction was to decline (hard pass). What did I know about advocacy (besides being a loud mouth) or legislation (besides that it is usually complicated), in relation to libraries? After talking it out with friends, I regained my composure to accept the initial appointment, and a later appointment as co-chair. Because, ultimately, I saw not only an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact in the profession, but a learning opportunity for myself. As my final act on this committee I wanted to share with you some of the work this committee has done, and encourage you to be involved in a process committee in the future.   During the last three years, this committee has: Changed to a fully virtual…

From Awareness to Funding: Voter Perceptions and Support of Public Libraries in 2018 as Advocacy Tool

If you haven’t seen or heard, OCLC has partnered with PLA, and the ALA Office for Library Advocacy, and recently released a report on library perceptions and support among US voters. It’s called From Awareness to Funding: Voter Perceptions and Support of Public Libraries in 2018. This new report can be compared to a similar study done by OCLC in 2008 called From Awareness to Funding: A Study of Library Support in America. There is a free webinar, presented by WebJunction, which presents the new research findings with comparisons to the research done 10 years earlier. These findings can help shape our advocacy efforts. Hence the hashtag: #awareness2funding ! According to the new study, a majority of US voters value public libraries. That’s good news! However, the study also included some disheartening news, especially in the Youth Services world. Brace yourselves… Fewer voters are likely to see the library as…

Everyday Advocacy Has Lots to Offer

With National Library Legislative Day (May 7-8) just about a month away, this seems an appropriate time to remind everyone about Everyday Advocacy (EA)! Are you familiar with EA? According to ALSC’s EA website, Everyday Advocacy is “a grassroots effort that starts with you and the incredible things you’re already doing for the youth and families you serve.” Consider Everyday Advocacy an antidote to the advocacy intimidation factor! Need more convincing? Just take another (or first) look at the site. It truly is filled with resources compiled to help you get comfortable in the role of advocate or to get inspired to do more in the way of advocacy. Here’s just a small sampling of what you will find at the Everyday Advocacy site: Be Informed | The Power of Stories Human beings learn through stories. A well-told story is an extremely compelling way to convey your message, which will…