Committing to Advocacy

In last week’s SLM Blog post, Resources for School Library Impact Studies, I shared that I recently talked with Debra Kachel of Mansfield University and the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) about her work in school library advocacy with the state legislature.  In recounting the year-long process of passing the PA House Resolution to study school libraries in the state and the second year of conducting the study, Deb emphasized the day-to-day dedication that is school library advocacy.  She explained that advocacy isn’t something that can be accomplished in a day and filed away in a resume; much like a marriage, Deb told me, advocacy is something to work on continuously, with total commitment.  This daily routine of refining one’s practice to attain excellence – including the risk-taking of sharing a performance in a public space – reminded me of the dedication required over time to master and perform a musical instrument.

Deb Kachel offered these words on advocacy to share with you here:

“The school library profession needs to get beyond talking to each other.  The only way we are going to have a serious impact in guaranteeing quality school library programs for students is to begin to reach out to other organizations that care about education and build not just advocates but champions for school libraries. While individual advocacy within the school building is important, we are not going to win this war school building by school building. If we really care about equality and quality of school library services for all kids, we need to build support outside the school library profession, get organized, and become politically recognized. The new Pennsylvania school library research study gives us the evidence that makes the “ask” clear—we need full-time, certified school librarians in every school in America. This is not going to be easy, but it is right and the future leaders of our country need and deserve this essential educational resource to learn. It’s going to be up to school librarians to lead the way.”

Once again, a grateful hat tip to Deb Kachel for talking with me and sharing her advocacy resources and words of wisdom.

Image: Dedication, by Bunches and Bits {Karina} on Flickr.  Used with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

–Rebecca Morris

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