Hello and welcome to the first post from the ALSC Public Awareness Committee! The Public Awareness Committee focuses on ways to reach out through public awareness campaigns about the importance of library services for youth. The PAC works to promote awareness of the value of excellent library service for all children. In other words, we work in the name of advocacy for library services to youth.
Advocacy is a word that you most likely hear regularly in the world of public libraries today. Advocacy is typically defined as the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause or idea. In the current climate of shrinking budgets, shifting education curriculum and new technology, those of us who work in youth services need to be more aware than ever of the importance of urging others to recognize the role libraries play in the development of children.
Most of us are probably eager to discuss our work with anyone who is willing to listen. We stand in a special position within the community ripe with advocacy opportunities. But sometimes the topic of advocating may seem overwhelming. There are many ways that you can advocate daily the importance of library services to children.
As youth services librarians, we regularly interact with parents and children both in programs and while working at the reference desk, providing countless chances to build future lifelong library patrons through stellar customer services and programming. By being the best librarian you can be, you are advocating for your library! You are exhibiting precisely the sort of services that children benefit from when visiting the library. Leading that storytime and discussing early literacy with new parents? Advocating! Outreach programming to local daycares and preschools? You are spreading the word about the wonderful library services available to adults and children who may not otherwise have been exposed to such information. Hurrah, advocacy!
Advocacy can be a goal of your day, everyday. If we want to continue our quest to support literacy growth and be a part of the cultural development of children, we need to focus on spreading the word about public libraries and their valuable contributions to the youth of the community.
What sort of advocacy efforts do you focus on at your library? What tips might you have for reaching out into the community?
Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Grafton-Midview Public Library in Grafton, OH and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.