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!