Advocacy Project

This project has been an interesting foray into the life of a librarian. I absolutely believe in the importance of advocacy for the library because we hear so often that libraries are dying out. I think that if everyone in the school and community have a better understanding of what a library and the librarians can do it will provide more acceptance and utilization of the library. The advocacy project seemed like an easy task, tell my stakeholder group what was needed for the library and how that would benefit the school as a whole. I didn’t think about how much research and effort it would take to talk a group into why this was important, what it could do for each of the stakeholder groups, how we could measure the impacts, etc. I think that the research definitely helped to make me feel more confident in my decisions and helped build a better project, hopefully.

A few weeks ago I answered this question, If your administrator stopped you in the hall now and asked why your library program and position are important to student learning. 

I don’t think that my answer would change much from then to now. I still believe everything I said. While I have more research under my belt it is for this particular project and that is important for the library but I think that my initial response was created to give the impression of what the overall importance of the library is. I think that it is wildly undervalued as are the librarians that serve it. The library is seen as a place that you can check out books and use the computer but there are so many things that a librarian can assist stakeholders with. They can collaborate with teachers to enhance curricula, they can create workshops and videos to teach stakeholders how to use technology, properly cite sources, find the best resources for research, etc. They keep the collection diversified and up to par with the size of the school, network and go to conferences to build understanding of new technology and tools to assist classroom and school efforts. There are so many things a librarian can do and advocacy is a big tool in order to complete these efforts because the library is not seen as important as it once was. Advocacy allows the stakeholders to see what the librarian has to offer and take part in those efforts to better themselves, their classrooms and the school as a whole.

Why do you need the library?

When I tell people what my major is, I get asked why do you need a masters degree? Do you need all that time to learn the dewey decimal system? What does a librarian do besides stock shelves with books and put them in order?

Who knows what the librarian does? Well the librarian does and should work with the stakeholders of the school to let them know what they can offer and how they can provide for the needs of the school and the stakeholders. Recently I interviewed a teacher, a librarian and an administrator about different roles and responsibilities held by the librarian and I found that the knowledge of what a librarian can do is not widely known even within the school so I wanted to take the time and write why this role is important and why the library itself is important.

The library is there to provide a safe space for stakeholders to find the information, literature, programs, etc that they are looking for. This should include how to enhance research methods, citation lessons or pointers, assistance with job searches, and so much more. The librarian is there to assist teachers through co-teaching or collaboration where the librarian will offer assistance to enhance a project or assist with a lesson by providing a new technology component. A librarian should promote a love of reading by ensuring the collection is up to date and will review the checkout data to ensure that the books that are in the collection are what the stakeholders want and need. The librarian should attend conferences (local, state and national, if possible) and network with other librarians to learn what works, what doesn’t, get ideas on how to enhance the library but also to learn of new technologies and how they can improve the learning/teaching processes.

The library and the librarian are essential to enhancing, growing and changing to meet the needs of the school. They are there to lead the school towards the goals they have and ensure they are met. It is important to have this role available because they can teach not only the students but all stakeholders about important tips, tricks and technologies that can bring interactive, engaging and enhanced methods of learning, teaching and researching. They can also teach the importance of safety in using the technologies through digital literacy training.

There are many things a librarian can do to bring the school closer to its goals but they cannot do these things without the help, advocacy and cooperation of all stakeholders in the school. They can provide data and reasoning for all of their decisions but they should have the support of the school to help make all of the goals a reality.

Why Librarians are Important

It is shocking to read the research that shows the cuts being made to libraries and library positions nationwide. I understand from the reactions I get when I tell people I am studying to become a librarian that the position is grossly underestimated. In reading the assigned articles this week I got a better glimpse into what all a librarian can do and how important advocacy for the library truly is. Advocating for the library can come from anyone and in many forms but it is an important aspect to keep libraries and librarians in schools and to improve these things for all stakeholders. The technology, programs, education, promotion of reading, writing and literacy are things that we need to cherish and advocate for through local, state and national means.

I enjoyed all of the articles presented this week but the evidence based practice. I had thought about advocacy and conferences to help build the library to what it needs to be. I had not thought about reviewing research and watching trends to see what is needed in the library and how to use this information best. This is a wonderful approach to broach advocacy. You can build a case based on your research, experience and skills to create a proposal for why you need what you do and why it is beneficial to the stakeholders and the school as a whole. I think that when you are advocating or asking for something it is best to provide a plan of action and support of why this will work and how it will benefit the stakeholders.

Questions that these articles left me with are, How best can we inform the masses of the importance of libraries and librarians? How can each person within the school advocate for the library? How do we incorporate evidence based practice into more schools?

I am also learning from my interviews of different school staff that the information they know about librarians and their roles and responsibilities it is a wide range of ideas and depends on how closely they work with the library and the librarian. I think that if you look at what you know about libraries you will find that it correlates to how much you utilize this resource but the more you utilize it the more you understand the benefits it can have for you.

 

https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/school-libraries/leading-and-managing/managing-your-school-library/evidence-based-school-library-practice/evidence-based-practice-and-why-it-matters

http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.proxy006.nclive.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=c2c44bcc-6068-455f-bb3d-011f80832487%40sessionmgr4006

http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.proxy006.nclive.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=1700b32a-0efe-4964-9d48-43d2c8aae30c%40sessionmgr4006

School Library Missions

The mission statement of the library I am working with is: the media center exists to assist students in their search for recreational and curricular reading material; to promote students’ life-long enthusiasm for reading; and to collaborate with teachers to improve curriculum development and student achievement.

I think that the best way to live up to this mission statement is to hold meetings regularly with the different departments to ensure that you are collaborating as expected and how to do more with these collaborations in order to get the most out of the effort but also to best serve the patrons. It is important to have collaboration between teachers and the media specialist so that students have additional support for research questions and project related needs but also so they can learn new ways to complete these tasks. Teachers, administrators and media specialists need to collaborate to improve and expand on the curriculum so that it can transform and grow with the technologies added and the students’ needs. The point of collaboration among all school staff is to enhance the student learning experience and to constantly grow and improve what is already working and fix what is not working. 

I would recommend that if you want to promote a life long enthusiasm for reading you need to work with the English department to bring more diversity to the assigned reading but also do not limit what the students can read based on their reading level. You can let a student know this is a higher reading level and that they are welcome to try it if that is what they want but to come to you for assistance if they have any issues with the book. I think if we only stick to our reading levels we aren’t moving forward but staying stagnant. It is good to challenge ourselves and our students to try new things and to try things that challenge them in different ways. I have said this many times and I should probably research the probability of this working but I think that students should be offered books with the same theme but from different formats and genres so they can find what they enjoy while still learning the same lesson. I think having something like that in place would really help students find a passion for reading. 

 

Disability and Difference in Literature

This week I read Girls Like Us, El Deafo, “The Real Deal: Teen Characters with Autism in YA Novels,” “Inclusive Literature in the Library and the Classroom,” and “Book Therapy: The Power of Picture Books for an Inclusive Classroom.”

El Deafo was such a fun book, it’s comic strip vibe made the characters more entertaining and interesting. The depictions of the background characters to CeCe’s hearing loss seemed so relatable because this seems to be the default when people don’t understand what we are saying. We get loud, we slow things down and we talk with our hands but typically not in a way that helps describe what we are saying any better. This was a beautiful insight into one person’s experience growing up with and later without hearing. This would be a wonderful addition to any library but especially in schools for inclusion and diversity. It is important for children to learn about disabilities so they can either find themselves in the books or so that they can understand people they may come across.

    Girls Like Us was a powerful and heartbreaking but wonderful book. Biddy and Quincy were part of the Special Education program at their school and are paired to live together after they graduate. They are very opposite in personality but they learn and grow together through experiences, living with one another and their friend Lizbeth. Each of these girls goes through a very traumatic experience and they deal with it differently but they find a commonality that brings them so much further in their own paths. This is a book that is good for understanding disability, bullying, sexual assault and more. It would be a great addition to a high school or public library; it would promote inclusion and diversify the library’s collection.

Each of the articles were enjoyable and brought great advice and insight into disabilities and literature. I thought there were some ideas that highlighted the fact that a child in the classroom or school has a disability and I think it would be best to work it into regular lesson plans. I think highlighting difference makes the person you are trying to include feel more isolated. I like the idea of “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” because you could present a variety of differences and disabilities for everyone to get a small window of insight into what it is like everyday for others. I think other exercises to include with readings would be having speakers come visit the classroom or library, incorporating volunteer events, and open dialogue always helps. I agree that having characters with disabilities are important because , like I have said in previous weeks, everyone should be able to find themselves in a book. They should be able to find their similarities and understanding in a book even if they cannot always find it in the real world. It is important to review these books as you would any other. You should find books that are well received by the disabled community with realistic and accurate characters.

Cultural Flashpoints

This week I read The Hate U Give, The Hate List, “The Portrayal of Bullying in Young Adult Books: Characters, Contexts, and Complex Relationships,” and “Two Professors Critique the Representations of Africans and African Americans in Picture Books.”

The Hate List is a powerful book about a school shooting, the aftermath, bullying and the struggles teens/young adults deal with while in school. Valerie is confused about who she is after her boyfriend decides to open fire at their high school and then kills himself. The problem is she helped him make his list for the killings, she just didn’t realize that would ever happen. Her family is in shambles, she has a hard time figuring out who she is and who she wants to be while the bullying does not seem to stop after the shooting. This is an important book for students and parents alike; school shootings are happening more often across the country and it is important to have a book that sparks discussions about this topic. Students see these shootings and hear about them as much as us adults do so it is important to gauge how they feel about what is happening and get a window into what other students have been through. For those who have been through it this book is a mirror of what they went through.

The Hate U Give, I was so excited to read this book for class because I have been dying to read it personally. The movie is going to be amazing though not as good as the book because let’s be honest they never are. This book covers police brutality and race issues. Starr is from a low income neighborhood but goes to a high end private school. She feels like she has to be two different people to fit into both worlds. She is present when her friend is killed by a police officer and faces a lot of pressure from the two communities she is part of. Police brutality is a hot topic in today’s society and racial profiling is a huge part of the issue. This book, like The Hate List, is both a mirror and a window into the pressures and fears that come with other races. Students face these issues everyday and if they are not personally impacted they certainly see it in the world around them it is important that schools provide a safe place for them to explore this issue and talk about it how they see fit. I think including discussion questions and opening the floor up to the students to describe what they felt while reading the book would make a greater impact.

The Portrayal of Bullying…” was a wonderful read; it was interesting to see the most popular types of bullying brought up in literature but even more interesting to see that there was usually more than one form utilized. The books selected in the study give a fairly well rounded account of what books with bullying in them have to offer. Most are from the point of view of the bullied with a couple from the bully’s point of view. While some tackle bullying head on others have it in the background. Bullying is so prominent in today’s society an author would be remiss to avoid the topic. There are so many ways to bully today than there were a decade ago. It is important for children to read that they are not the only ones being bullied and that it is not the end there are people who care and are willing to help. I will definitely be adding a few of the books from the study to my own TBR list to get a better understanding of the topic. “Two Professors….” this article was refreshing, it was a breakdown of a study of picture books with African or African American characters compared by a white woman and an African American woman both in Literature fields of study. It was roughly 50/50 for books they agreed on and didn’t agree on. Their conversation and honesty with each other in order to truly understand how these books were being produced and received was very interesting to read. They picked a well rounded source of books with authors of different races to see how they held up.

Multiculturalism in Literature

It is important to have books with diverse characters, settings, etc. because there should be a book for every person out there. Everyone should be able to find something they can relate to and have a character that mirrors them so they feel represented and “normal.” This week I read Ms. Marvel No Normal, Last Stop on Market Street as well as articles by Berlatsky, Gangi and Warsinske. Each of these readings gave me greater insight into the importance of diversity in literature. It is typical to read what we know so it is important to have books that relate to everyone. Each year I like to join one of the book challenges that ask you to read outside of your box which are a lot of fun and gives you the opportunity to try new books from across the genres. I felt like this week’s readings and assignments made me want to delve into more books with multiculturalism and I added quite a few to my TBR wishlist. I would like my professional library, when I get to that point, to reflect a diverse population of books to mirror the diverse population of people that are out there.

Ms. Marvel was a wonderful comic book, I want to get the rest of the series in and see how Kamala/Ms. Marvel’s story continues. It was so cool to Kamala grow into her own superhero and to grow into her beliefs. So many teenagers feel out of place and different add to that her Muslim religion and “weird” foods for lunch it is basically wearing a target in high school these days. The creators of this novel balanced the school, family, superhero life so realistically. Kamala was struggling with her beliefs and finding where she fit into those beliefs that she thought being someone else would help. As so often happens the grass was not greener on the other side and she quickly found her rhythm in a superhero version of herself rather than the superheroes she read about. I think that is an important message in itself, that you are enough and the exploration of who you are is normal.

Last Stop on Market Street was adorable and really covered a large spectrum of diversity in the illustrations and the story. This is a great picture book for elementary students and older about the people you come across on a daily basis and not drawing conclusions based on their appearance. This was just beautifully illustrated and written, it is a very quick read but the message is lasting.

Gangi makes so many good points throughout “The Unbearable Whiteness of Literacy Instruction: Realizing the Implications of the Proficient Reader Research.” Mirror books or books in which the reader can see themselves are so important to have in a collection because while it is a mirror book to one group it is a window to others. It is important not only to see ourselves in the books we read but to see other cultures and backgrounds so we may better understand them as well. I also agree that it is important to find diverse books that are well received by diverse groups rather than by a group that has no skin in the game for lack of better description. We can say there are diverse characters but if it is not well received by the group in which is depicted than it really is not a fair assessment. Warsinske’s article touched on keeping diverse books just to be diverse and I would say that would not be the ultimate goal. It is important to have books within your collection that are well received all around but if you have a book that is not being checked out and promotions are not helping that factor, I think it would be beneficial to look up popular books with diversity and add them to the collection while weeding the ones that are not resonating with your patrons. Berlatsky really touches on how awesome Ms. Marvel is because she is so normal while noting that it is rare to have a female superhero of color headlining a comic book. His article was so spot on because there are so few characters of color or different ethnic backgrounds that are featured as lead superheroes and yet Kamala/Ms.Marvel is so similar to all the other stories.