Welcome to Ask ALSC, where the Managing Youth Services Committee asks leaders in children’s libraries to share their response to an issue or situation. We hope to showcase a range of responses to topics that may affect ALSC members. If you’d like to respond to today’s topics, or suggest a topic for the future, please leave a comment.

Today we will discuss advocacy. As librarians, we are constantly vying for resources to fund programs and purchase materials. With so much going on at the library this can seem like a monumental undertaking. I surveyed several librarians and asked how they advocated for their work and their programs. Below are the top three responses I received.

Rely on others: This first response may come as a surprise but many librarians said they let others advocate for them. The teacher that you conduct outreach for, the parent who comes to story time, the community leader who sees reading scores improve because of the work you do. All of these people can highlight the importance of your work. The more people that see the value in your work, the more resources you will likely receive.
Have an elevator pitch: Simply put, be ready to advocate for what you do anytime and anywhere! Come up with a quick sales pitch about the importance of your job. Be able to explain why your work is vital to our children.
Get it in writing: We all have success stories that we can tell someone but not all of us have those stories on paper. When a parent comments that your story time is the best their child has been to have them write it down. When a teacher states that your programs are helping to instill a love of literacy in her students ask her to put it in writing. Asking for documented success stories is not arrogance. It is a smart way to advocate for the importance of your work.

Have you tried any of the above suggestions? What other ways do you advocate for your programming?

Today’s blog post was written by Tracie Forfia, Youth Services Librarian at the Cleveland Public Library on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.
This blog relates to ALSC Core Competencies of I. Commitment to Client Group and V. Outreach and Advocacy.

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