Sunday, 19 August 2012

#cpd23 Thing 16

Thing 16: Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

Advocacy is hugely important, now more than ever before.  It is about making sure as many people as possible, within and outside of the profession, are aware of important events and given an opportunity for involvement.  In a sense it is something I do every day at school - it isn't only about attracting a new audience but about engaging with your existing one - something that sometimes librarians need to be reminded of so as to not alienate people that already support them.

Public libraries have come more into the limelight thanks to regional and national campaigns against all the cuts and closures happening lately, taken on brilliantly by Voices for the Library and others.  In February was a highlight of this: a week of events, including the friday dedicated to school libraries (see my post), leading to National LoveLibraries Day on Saturday 4th.  ASCEL, The SLA and CILIP wanted to bring school libraries to the attention of the public and the media as well with the SHOUTABOUT school libraries/sls campaign that I've supported by using the hashtag for school related tweets.  I'm supporting the Mass Lobby for School Libraries that will happen on 29th October 2012 - I've written to my MP and I will be attending the march on the day.  Attempts have been made by librarians and authors to get school libraries made statutory in English schools, as they are in Scottish schools, but so far have been unsuccessful.  I've not been on a march before, because I feel very uncomfortable with the idea of hooligans joining in just in order to cause trouble, but I think something organised by school librarians should be far more civilised!  It isn't a huge march, just a crowd of people heading to the Houses of Parliament to meet with MPs.  I don't yet know whether my MP would be available but actually I'd almost prefer it if he wasn't because I think I'd forget what I needed to say with the pressure :-/

Activism aside, as far as pure advocacy is concerned I am getting better at it as I gain confidence in my skills and importance - it includes sharing library related information with friends and family, and blogging about libraries but a hugely important use of advocacy is far more low key - keeping my school community aware of me and what I can provide.  Talking in a whole staff assembly was brilliant advocacy.  Creating a termly newsletter for staff and contributing to the parents' newsletter, talking to individual teachers and departments, regularly putting things in the staff bulletin, putting posters all over the school, talking to pupils...all of that is advocacy.  On a wider scale, getting information to people that have no real connection to my world and 'out of the echo chamber', it is much harder to get messages across.  My blog helps, or will as the follower count increases (hopefully), as do the articles I've written for Information Today Europe but of course they'll always be read by people who are already interested in libraries to some extent.  Further afield: I haven't yet tried!


  1. Caroline, I'm deeply impressed by all that you do. Have you had a chance to talk to any of the governors? Can you attribute your advocacy activities to any specific success stories - increased / retained funding, detailed involvement in a lesson, assignment or a great profile for information literacy? I'll be interested in your further experiences

  2. I invited governors to a couple of evening events - the official opening of the library and an 'Evening about Reading for Pleasure' - but none of them came, so although I know they hear stuff about the library I've never actually spoken to them! So that's a bit sad, but I feel I've had a decent impact on the pupils and staff: Over the 3years I've worked at the school book issues have grown exponentially and teachers from a variety of subjects have asked me more for advice/assistance/resources - for example I've led referencing and research lessons for the science department and an ICT teacher has asked that we collaborate on a short series of information literacy lessons - I suppose you could say it has led to a funding retention as the school is undergoing a phased closure but despite the falling roll I've been given the same budget as last year!