Call to Action

Child Advocacy: What Does ALSC Do?

As Priority Group consultant for the Child Advocacy group, I work with seven committees, one discussion group and one task force in ALSC. The official job of these groups, as drily stated in the ALA Handbook, is to “help identify, evaluate and make recommendations to ALSC on issues and services concerning children on local, state and national levels”.

But the way I look at it, they are some of the most “creative sparks” in ALSC – you see a lot of programs and publications sponsored by these folks. They really advance excellence in youth librarianship and model that excellence nationally. They are also masterful collaborators with ALA committees, other youth divisions and PLA. It would take an entire blog a good two months to go through everything these great members do, so I’ll try to highlight a few of the things that each group has recently been doing!

Early Childhood Services and Programs Committee — these folks have been active programmers and collaborators within ALSC and ALA. Their most recent program was “Babies and Books Beyond the Library,” presented at the 2007 annual conference. They were also a driving force in the creation of the Early Literacy Task Force and have been collaborating for many years with their early childhood colleagues in PLA. They are hard at work creating more programs, writing articles and agitating for early literacy!

Intellectual Freedom Committee — always on the forefront of IF issues, they just finished a wonderful new downloadable publication, “Kids Know Your Rights!” and sponsored a great program at 2007 annual: “A Sticky Issue: Is Labeling a Form of Censorship?” They work hard coordinating their efforts with the Freedom to Read Foundation; the ALA IF committee and IF office and the youth divisions IF efforts. This is a hot committee with lots of action and the ability to “do good”!

International Relations Committee — this committee finished a near Herculean task over the past few years of developing a great bibliography: “Growing Up Around the World.” These recent books reflect contemporary life by authors who have spent substantial time in each country. Now they are working on disseminating the lists as well as keeping them continuously updated.

Legislation Committee — another active committee that works closely with legislative efforts throughout ALA. Besides outstanding programs (this year: “Libraries + Lobbying = Success!”), they had a wildly successful presence on Capitol Hill during conference where congressional representatives were photographed for Read posters and ALSC handed out packets of information. This committee has spearheaded legislative alerts and efforts that advocate for children and libraries as well as larger efforts such as the re-authorization of Head Start. I salute them!

Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee — another rockin’ group! This year they sponsored the ALSC/ASCLA pre-conference, “The Underserved 20% – Children’s Teens and Adults with Disabilities”; helped develop the ALSC/Candlewick/Kate DiCamillo “Light the Way” award and worked to really make their presence on the ALSC wiki a reality.

Preschool Services Discussion Group — a great group that brings interested ALSC members together to share tips, ideas, books, songs and common solutions. Their twice-a-year gatherings are lively, informative and always fun!

School-Age Programs and Service Committee — this fairly new committee has been re-gathering itself with plans for programs; collaborations and plans to focus on the great services being offered for this age group by ALSC folks around the country. Stay tuned!

Public Awareness Committee (formerly the @your library Campaign Task Force) — After a highly visible and successful launch to the “@ Your Library” campaign, this group has just emerged as a full-fledged committee. The group’s goals are to advance the public awareness of various ALSC initiatives and work with the ALA Public Info office and create great programs for conferences.

Early Literacy Task Force — formed about a year ago, the task force’s task ”is to create an ‘umbrella’ initiative to address the on-going needs of librarians, libraries, and young children in the area of early literacy support, advocacy, and education.” They are working hard to address a number of initiatives including “Born to Read” and “Every Child Ready to Read” to make sure that involvement and materials remain relevant and available to members.

I think from the above, readers can see why this “Child Advocacy” umbrella really fits the committees and groups within our priority area. These committees not only have a “best practices” focus but a real “jump-in-and-get-your-feet-wet-and-dirty” emphasis that brings real muscle to all our work with children.  I urge members to volunteer to become active on these committees.  You’ll meet  – and become- movers and shakers; make life-long friends with colleagues from around the country from all size libraries and you will have the true satisfaction of knowing that you have made a real difference for youth and libraries beyond the sphere of your own work place!

-Marge Loch-Wouters

One comment

  1. KT Horning

    Marge, thanks for the lively descriptions of the committees in the Child Advocacy group. Even though I feel that I have a pretty good grasp of each committee’s function after my years on Organization and Bylaws and the ALSC Executive Committee, it was a pleasure to read your perspective on what made each committee stand out. You’re the opposite of dry (okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound so good, but you know what I mean!).

    I would just like to add that Advocacy is one of the three major goal areas in ALSC’s strategic plan, so these committees are doing essential work for our Division. Any member who has vision and who can see the big picture should consider volunteering for one of these committees.

    –KT Horning

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