The Spring 2016 Everyday Advocacy Challenge (EAC) entered its second week on Tuesday, March 8, with this Take Action Tuesday prompt:
Introduce Everyday Advocacy to a colleague.
To help them tackle this challenge, all Spring 2016 EAC cohort members received three advocacy buttons with tip sheets and three Everyday Advocacy one-page flyers to share with library colleagues and community members.
Read on to find out how Rose Hopkins-LaRocco, Angela Petrie, and Mary Voors took on the Week 2 challenge and won big!
This week’s Take Action Tuesday Challenge was to introduce a colleague to Everyday Advocacy. We were given Everyday Advocacy buttons and tip sheets and were asked to give these to colleagues and start a conversation. I gave one button to my supervisor and another to my coworker. They were both thrilled to get them and immediately put them on.
They both noted how easy it is to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of the Youth Services department and forget to be advocates; however, this brought up the conversation of finding those little moments to advocate. It could be something as simple as promoting a program or a quick reference or readers’ advisory interaction. These small moments are great times to use our elevator speeches, quickly describing the value of what we do. I am saving my third button for when I encounter a colleague who may not see the importance of our roles as advocates.
These buttons have also been a great conversation starter with my family and friends. My parents live in the town of the library at which I work. In November there is going to be a referendum to allow the library more tax money to build a new building so that we can expand our space and services. There are many supporters of this initiative but also a great deal of naysayers. I had the discussion with my parents about how they can advocate for their library and help others to see its value.
When I joined the EAC cohort, I thought about the mentor relationship I’m building with a new MLIS graduate, Melissa, who temporarily joined Youth Services through a Foundation Grant. Melissa is experiencing with us the implementation of a strategic plan. Prior to working with Youth Services, she interned with us. She attended board meetings and spent time with the library director which offered her the chance to see library administration from the top down. She is hoping to secure a position in library administration, which makes it even more important to express the value behind Youth Services efforts.
For this week’s challenge, I chose Melissa as my colleague to inform. I believe that communicating our efforts effectively encourages our colleagues to seek out valuable resources through ALSC. And this fit in nicely with our mentor relationship. I explained that I wanted to be involved with Everyday Advocacy to improve my ability to advocate using value-based language (VBL). I showed her the website and encouraged her to become involved. Finally, I offered her a few short sentences to show the difference VBL can make:
“I do storytime” becomes “I present early literacy enriched programming for preschoolers and their caregivers to help them better prepare for kindergarten.”
“We have stuff for teens to do” becomes “The passive programming we offer for visiting teens shows them they are valued library customers and we want to offer ways for them to be involved that’s easy and interesting.”
The conversations empowered me and encouraged my colleague.
We are nearly midway through this spring’s EAC, and I am so pleased that I am participating! Last week’s challenge was to introduce Everyday Advocacy to a colleague. I used this as an opportunity to speak to a staff member in our Adult Services department about how we could work together to help adult customers find developmentally appropriate apps to use with their kids. I am hopeful that this could grow into a cooperative effort between our departments.
I also made a point to talk with a regular customer who works as a preschool teacher. She loves the challenges of her work and is always looking for ways to help “her kids” and their families. Many of the children she works with come from ESL families, and we talked about the many resources she and her families could find at the library:
- Books, which can be used as both mirrors to their own experiences and windows to experiences of others;
- Storytimes at which parents can assist with sharing bilingual stories or songs; and
- Dramatic play in our Early Learning Center space, where kids and their families can build vocabulary and friendships.
Cultivating advocates within our libraries can be nothing but good not only for libraries, but even more importantly, for the kids with whom we work and their families. It is important that people both within the library profession as well as members of the general community are able (and willing) to articulate the importance and value of public libraries. To paraphrase a button I’ve taken to wearing as part of this advocacy challenge, “Together we can create a better future for children through libraries.”
Rose Hopkins-LaRocco is a librarian; Angela Petrie is a librarian and supervisor at Stillwater (Minn.) Public Library; and Mary Voors is a librarian and supervisor at Allen County (Ind.) Public Library. Rose, Angie, and Mary are participants in the Spring 2016 Everyday Advocacy Challenge, a 15-member volunteer cohort convening from March 1-22.