So, you’re on board with the fact that Students Need School Libraries and you want to do something to help the students near you. Here’s our practical list of steps to take.
1. Watch all the films
2. Read through this website - esp the FAQ
3. Find out what’s actually happening in your selected school library
- Who works in the library? What are their qualifications?
- You’ll be delighted if it’s a team of qualified staff - for example, the school might employ a qualified teacher librarian and a qualified library assistant or technician, or you might also see a qualified librarian and a teacher or a range of other combinations. You should definitely have a red flag waving if no one running the library has any library-related qualifications and/or if there is only one person running the library.
- How do they spend their time?
- You’d be hoping for a mix of team teaching and administrative time. You should have a red flag waving if the timetable is almost all release from face to face for the classroom teacher (as opposed to a team teaching situation) and/or if there are less than 10 hours/week of administrative time (to resource the curriculum and plan and teach collaboratively with teachers).
- If the person is willing to share, find out the level of willingness within the school to improve the staffing and/or the timetable of the school library staff.
- Be aware that this can be a delicate conversation to have with someone working in a school. They might be worried about “dobbing” in their school and getting in trouble. Keep in mind that you are acting in the best interests of the students and use your judgement on a case by case situation.
- This Parent Brochure has a list of good questions you can ask about the school library.
4. Get the Strategic Plan for the school (or the school system)
- This is usually available on the school’s website. It should identify goals for the school (or school system) for the next few years.
- Read it whilst thinking about what you’ve learned in the films. What goals can strong school library services help achieve?
- This is vitally important for ‘speaking the language’ of the decision makers. Please contact us for help if you get stuck on this step.
5. Start talking with others in the community
- A good conversation starter is “I’m worried about our kids because they’re going to high school soon and they don’t have a strong school library to teach them how to xyz [insert topic of interest from the films]”.
- Get a ‘lay of the land’: Who agrees with you? Who doesn’t? Why? What is the perception of like-minded people about how to best tackle the situation?
- Encourage them to watch the films and read the website
This infographic identifies your network. These are the people that you need to be talking to. Taken from McAlevey, J. (2016). No shortcuts: Organizing for power in the new gilded age. New York: Oxford.
6. Make a plan:
- Who will you talk with? Who will help you have that conversation? NOTE: There is strength in numbers.
- What will you say? Focus on how school library services will help achieve the goals in the strategic plan.
- Gather some data from students and teachers about what they would like to have, see and do in their school library.
- Feel free to email us your ideas and questions. We’re happy to provide feedback and help!
7. Make a presentation:
- To the Principal, the P+C, the School Board, the education minister, state/territory parent advocacy groups
- Show them a film or two, share research as evidence to back up what you’re saying
- Invite a qualified teacher librarian to come and speak to the community about what they do and why it is important
- Feel free to download and personalise our excellent slideshow to suit your specific situation.
- Contact us with any tricky questions you need help to answer
8. Identify Next Steps like:
- Getting a qualified library staff member as a guest speaker
- Starting an online petition (NOTE: please let us know if you do this so that we can link to it from our website)
- Create some simple fliers expressing your concerns and have conversations at school pick up times
- Print and share our SNSL flyer
- Purchase some campaign promotional material from Syba Signs. Unleash the power of the bumper sticker!
- Connect with school staff members who seem interested and ask them for their advice.
- Connect with the education union for the school staff and ask them what you can do to support their work for the campaign.
- Use the contact us page of this website to update us on what you’ve done and ask for advice or make a suggestion about how we might be able to help
- Share your success stories with us - even little things build momentum and give others ideas. (e.g. I showed some films to other parents at our Friday coffee session and now they’re following the campaign Facebook and Twitter pages.)
Working together to ensure student access to high quality school library services.
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