Why advocacy is important
If your stakeholders know the value of the school library in supporting teaching and learning, you'll be able to rely on their support. This includes the board of trustees, your principal and management team, staff, students, parents and whānau.
They can help you ensure that:
- the library is well used
- collection development is well funded
- library staffing levels are adequate
- library initiatives have the support they need to be successful.
Advocacy is particularly important when things are changing. This might be when:
- your senior management team changes
- the school is planning to redevelop your library
- funding changes will affect your library budgets.
Who can advocate for your library?
Members of your school library team are the most obvious, but not the only advocates for your library. Others with influence in your school community are important advocates too.
People who you’ve built a strong relationship with can champion the services you provide. They value and understand the impact of the library for students in your school. Ask them to help convince others of its importance and value.
How to advocate for your library
Your library collection, programmes and services make a difference every day for teachers, students, parents and whānau. Your advocacy should mention all the services and benefits your library provides to your school community. Letting people know about these positive effects send a powerful message about the value of your library.
The interactions you have with people are another opportunity for advocacy. Positive actions and conversations influence how others see and value your school library.
Collaborations and partnerships
Developing advocacy messages
Focus your messages on the library’s impact on students, rather than on the library or library staff. Tell your community how your school library:
- supports and enriches teaching and learning, with a focus on inquiry, reading and information literacy
- is an integral part of the social and cultural life of your school
- makes resources, technology, physical and virtual learning spaces available for your school community.
Purpose of the school library
Library guiding documents
Including evidence in your messages
Requests for funding or support for new initiatives can be more persuasive if backed up by evidence that shows a clear need. Support your advocacy messages with evidence such as stories, statistics or other data.
Evidence-based school library practice
Communicating your messages
Spread your advocacy messages widely so that they’re heard and taken into account by those making decisions about your library.
- Share them with staff, your principal, the board of trustees and members of the school community. This lays the groundwork for other people to become advocates for your library.
- Talk to people with influence — they're your potential champions, so they need to hear your key messages.
- Advocacy is an ongoing process, not a one-off effort. Use regular high-impact messages to help build a positive picture in the minds of your stakeholders.
- Use a variety of channels to share your messages, including face-to-face, electronic and print.
Use your annual report as an advocacy tool to build a positive picture of the library in the minds of your school community.
Find out more
Everyday Advocacy — Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC).
Advocacy — American Association of School Libraries (AASL).