Empowering Learners choice of the word Advocacy to anchor this section about making sure that both the school, community and those outside it are aware of what the library does and can do is powerful and effective. Also the mentions of various types of evidence based ways to show what the library is achieving reminds me of our library defense paper. One of the thoughtful choices that was made was in how the evidence based things weren’t just test scores but products like student webpages. I think this addresses an important part of the education world where it can be so easy to fall back on certain type of assessments since that’s what brings in money and support. Other types of assessment can be powerful, but I think it requires a librarian who knows how to explain and how just how key they are, more than just using the shiny tech, but having real thoughtful products.
I found the Elevator Speech article captured just how key it is to be able to quickly get everyone on the same page as you are especially with how rapidly the world of libraries is changing. The exercise from MAME sounded like it was interesting, I would be curious to know what were some of the speeches that people came up with.
In terms of the other article, I was slightly surprised by how defensive the speeches come across as. I heard in them a lot of this is what I’ve done, aren’t I busy, just point me in the right direction. This seems to be the difficult balancing art of school librarians, how do you say what you can do without seeming to push or brag or cross that line between helping and being in the way.
The AASL Toolkit for Advocacy is a wonderful resource, I like how its organized with explanations and clear lists of check with these people and make sure they know this. Just reading through it was calming since it was very clearly saying, here’s a plan and you’re not alone.
My favorite part of the AASL definition is “turning passive support into educated action”, which sums up advocacy so well since its positive and full of action. I like the idea of saying, we know you want to help and support us, here’s how. Same with marketing, its really about serving the community best with the most thoughtful use of resources.
In the other toolkit, I love the idea of you’re a student advocate, I think its something that librarians and teachers can’t hear enough off since its empowering and true. I found this toolkit even more useful than the other one for how it lays out so clearly why and how to be an advocate.
During our discussion I was struck by how professional development is something that a librarian can choose to take on and if they wish really focus on yet if they don’t pay attention to it, it won’t be as obvious to anyone else. Since if a school doesn’t have a culture of professional development, there’s no one who will prompt a new librarian or teacher or administrator to continue it. Yet if you’re willing to take up the work then bringing professional development into a school or district can do a huge amount to change for the better and others will be encouraged.
In terms of the example of Michigan and how easy it is to be isolated when there’s not the money for the professional development, I was thinking of how if that kept happening slowly, an administrator might not even be aware of how bad things are. It just creeps up on you as there’s no money for conferences but if there’s nothing to replace them than the school ends up paying heavily. I found it hopeful just how much is now available online so that there are ways to keep learning without the great cost. Also the MAME conference was a good example of bringing the change and development where it needs to be and finding ways to cut the cost but not cut the knowledge that’s brought in. Since it seems like one of the most powerful parts of professional development is being aware of the outside world and how the simple act of interacting with other people who do the same thing in a different place can shift and change how someone might approach a topic.
The other fact I found fascinating is all the various avenues of development that a librarian can choose to focus on from politics, literacy to curriculum and all the various ways that they intersect. It seems like one of the most beneficial things that a librarian could do is find out what they enjoy and what is lacking in their community and work on how best to improve those two things. Since there’s no reason that the development work can’t be enjoyable, because one of the reasons that we choose to become librarians is a desire to keep learning.
My first thoughts on the Johnson blog is that I like how honest and straightforward the language is and facing common misconceptions like the idea that the online resources will save money on print. Its really a trade off and requires a good amount of thought in terms of what and how money is being invested. So the idea that you can cut one and that won’t be a loss to the library is a really key idea since its about how every resource in the library helps. The third blog post seems to say quite clearly pick your hill and defend it with all your passion and reminds me of how passionate and dedicated Carl Harvey was in terms of talking about collaboration and flexible scheduling and now that’s the norm in his school. Then the fourth post clicks into our library defense papers and just how key it is to be able to show the impact of cuts in an incredibly specific way, because that’s going to resonate the most with administrators. I like how the fifth then builds in terms of saying if you start with a strong budget then everything is going to be easier since your goals and options are right there. The sixth post seems quite connected to just how much a school librarian needs to know everything about how the school works so that they can know best how to get and use resources from as many places as possible. Then the last half comes across as the tools to really get things done which are powerful, I like seeing those examples because I know that having a template and program to help me know what to do would keep me doing it. Also a lot of budgeting and management really comes back to keeping connected and truly understanding how your school and library works on every level.
Dickinson appears to be echoing what Johnson’s saying just structuring things in a different way by presenting this idea of the budget cycle: knowledge, planning and implementation. Then following up with all the whys of how critical a budget is and especially how if you neglect it, how harder it is to build things up from scratch. Again there’s the focus on specificity and being able to show what you’re doing with what money you have.
The article on writing and winning grants then works as a logical next step of saying if you know what you want, go ask for it and keep it simple and effective and keep looking and pushing.
Empowering Learners seems to again be repeating all these same messages of stay connected, know what you need and how to get it and don’t be afraid to push.
Woolls then breaks down all the little details of how schools really work and goes into how to make all these things happen. So if you plan your budget thoughtfully and are specific then this is the best way to make it happen in reality.
In terms of Personnel issues, I found it quite striking how important the idea of certified and licensed staff members is to the AASL and would be curious to know exactly what that means and if that’s hard to reach in libraries. Woolls does a good job of talking about how many school librarians might not at first come in expecting to be a manager of personnel but should know how to be one and that the most important part is communication. Since communication builds the foundation for trust and shared expectations which will help the library function well whether the personnel are volunteers or paraprofessionals. Then she extends that out to everyone who spends any time or is affected by the library which I think is a good way to show just how key it is to have clear lines of communication and expectations for everyone in the library.