I recently had the absolute pleasure and privilege of being invited to share with librarians in the SLANZA Waikato/BOP area around the weighty and timely topic of library advocacy.
After being affected by fog in Christchurch and three plane rides later, I finally arrived in Hamilton at 9 o’clock at night (original arrival time was scheduled at 3.30pm! There’s a potential separate blog post on my stressful, circuitous journey, but I digress) and drove across to Tauranga to meet with the SLANZA Waikato/BOP crew the following morning.
While the weather that Saturday morning may have kept more faint-hearted souls in their beds, that is certainly not the case for intrepid librarians! They are like the Pony Express riders of the historic Amerian West, “heroes for the much needed and dangerous service they provided for the nation” and cheerfully turned out in good numbers. (They were admirably rewarded with a stunning morning tea spread to keep their energy levels at high! Thanks, team!)
The workshop covered 10 key areas:
- Taking a look at the big picture
- Identifying our vision
- Acknowledging what we already do
- Collaborative strategies
- Working with our whole community
- Telling our story
- Promotion and marketing
- How to gather evidence and what to do with it
- Tools of the trade
Since coming across it several years ago, I have often reflected on Lauren Cohen’s Librarian 2.0 Manifesto, which is startlingly, now more than 10 years old, and it had inspired me to want to write my own, but it never got to the top of my “to do” pile.
So, while preparing for this workshop I revisited it, along with re-reading the UNESCO and IFLA School Library Manifesto and the School Library and Learning in the Information Landscape: Guidelines for New Zealand Schools, which is now more than 15 years old. It made me realise that there has been little of significance published about advocating for school libraries and learning in more than a decade and given the rate of change in education in those dozen or so years it certainly gives pause for thought.
It also made me revisit my goal of writing my own manifesto but chose a different path and instead I incorporated the UNESCO manifesto and the NZ guidelines with my own library world view and this is what I came up with:
If you’d like more details about the advocacy workshop you can access it here:
And if you are looking for even more inspiration then you should invest in a copy of This is What A Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information by Kyle Cassidy. It is awesome! Expect a blog post soon on this amazing book.
Thanks to the Waikato/BOP Committee for inviting me to come and share with them. They’re an awesome team, ably led by Glenys and Linda. And thank you guys for the most precious of gifts you can give a librarian, a newly published book!
Finally, I’ll leave you with what has become a bit of a catchphrase for me in recent months as I continue to explore the intersection between libraries and learning.
Here is another one of Cambridge High’s library manager Glenys Bichan’s fantastic initiatives. This time it’s combining a splash of food and a pinch of libraries with a bushell of people in a special concoction to become their inaugural Librarian Master Chef competition.
Five teams had to cook two courses based on the themes of books they chose. The teams were:
- Harry Potter-concocted “Mrs Weasleys Corn Beef” sandwiches.
- Percy Jackson, “Greek Burgers” complete with feta and olives.
- Alice in Wonderland had food coloured pasta in a dish called “The Chesire Cat”.
- Lord of the Rings made “Dragon Eyes” out of eggs
- And the winning team Winnie The Pooh made amazing “Poohs Honey Ginger Bread”.
Food preparation took place in the Food Tech Room and the judging panel consisted of the Deputy Principal, a maths teacher who happens to be an ex chef and the school’s head students. The Principal made a point of checking it out. (I imagine to get in on a bit of the taste test action!)
As if this inventive, creative competition isn’t enough in itself, Glenys as usual, is all about the business of people, as we discovered in her inspirational posting about the two Jaimees in her library. She sees events like this as her way of having input into the lives of her students, making memories for them of their time as part of her library team.
And it brings disparate groups together who might not otherwise associate. She witnessed potential head students working alongside autistic kids; beside students with significant illness; beside kids who have gained recognition nationally for their areas of giftedness.
In her own words: “We have the opportunity to really, positively impact the lives of these students in powerful ways! They loved it, and being the family they are laughed a lot – it was just a bit tricky stopping the year 10 boys tea towel flicking!
The food was stunning and the planning amazing – two weeks they plotted. They did so well. Jaime the Giraffe, of course came as well, only his team, which included me was disqualified!!”
Thank you from us all, Glenys!
I have found Mr. Library Dude, Joe Hardenbrook to be an inspiration and at times a digital kindred spirit over the past few years, reading about ideas such as therapy dogs and postcards from the library. In this offering he shares a fantastic idea to put a different spin when communicating to people (in this case 15 year old students – one of the toughest crowds!) how good it is to be a librarian and what qualities you need to become a great one.
I love this approach and will keep this in mind the next time I get an opportunity to talk to people about what I do. It has the potential to turn that opportunity into something positive for the the deliverer as well as the recipient. Thanks for sharing Joe!