Advocate strong school libraries using the IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto and Guidelines and other resources
The IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto defines the mission and goals of the school library or resource center and the profile of its staff. To help schools and school librarians to implement the principles expressed in the manifesto, the IFLA/UNESCO School Library Guidelines were published. The Guidelines help in developing a mission and a policy for the school library. They state which resources and staffing are essential for a well functioning school library.
Librarians and library associations can use both documents to raise the profile of school libraries and resource centers in their own schools, their own regions and their own countries.
School librarians who want to use these documents successfully, will have to develop a strategy that is adapted to the local situation and legislation. There is not one recipe that can be used worldwide. In this document, the Ifla Section School Libraries and Resource Centers presents useful ideas and relevant resources to develop such a strategy.
Network with other librarians
In many countries and regions around the world there are (school) library associations. They have experience in lobbying and raising awareness. Contact you local association and find out how they can help. Or perhaps they are just waiting for your ideas to develop a successful action.
You can find the address of your association through:
- the Ifla Membership Directory (just type the name of your country in English);
- the list of school library associations at the IASL website;
- the Ensil website for European associations.
Is there no association in your area? Consider raising your own school library association. Ideas on how to do that, can be found on the IASL website. The Ifla Section Management of Library Associations has prepared a series of brochures that provide advice about establishing and managing a library association. The brochures are available on the section’s pages at the IFLA website.
Networking is always a good idea. Become a member of an international association. Join the Ifla Section School Libraries and Resource Centers (indicate you want to become a member of section 11, School Libraries and Resource Centers) and the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL). Both have there own Newsletter and other publications and organise conferences and meetings around the world. Check out their websites for more information.
Learn how to advocate your case
There are several websites providing ideas on how to support your case.
- The American Association of School Librarians presents an advocy toolkit on its website. It also refers to the School Library Campaign of ALA’s @ your library. There is a pdf-version of the toolkit available;
- Visit the Advocacy Resource Center of the the American Library Association;
- Download the report of the Advocacy and Lobbying Workshop (pdf) of Book Aid International;
- School Libraries Making a Difference is a UK website – and a brochure (pdf) – devoted to advocacy of school libraries;
- Self evaluation may be a good start: tell others what your good in, or show you are willing to improve your services. Teachernet offers tools for self-evaluation, both for primary and secondary schools.
Be creative. Use e.g. the video Building Skills for Tomorrow: Minnesota School Library Media Programs Make a Difference. The video was made by the Minnesota Educational Media Organisation to support the Minnesota Standards for Effective School Library Media Programs. These standards complement the IFLA/UNESCO documents. Check out Memoweb for more information.
Or refer to well known school librarians, like Laura Bush, First Lady of the USA. She has a master’s degree in library science and worked as a public school teacher and librarian in the Houston, Dallas and Austin school systems. In 2002 she organised a White House Conference on School Libraries. Look for influential advocates in your own community.
Use the International School Library Day (ISLD) to promote your library in your institution. ISLD also is an excellent opportunity to contact your (local) government. Ask them to make the fourth monday of October your local School Library Day. Use the event to confront principals, administrators, and politicians with the IFLA/UNESCO documents and the research findings.
Refer to (international) research
Research around the world demonstrates that school libraries improve student achievement. Easily accessible reports are available on the internet:
- Lyn Hay and James Henri investigated the Principal’s role in developing and supporting an information literate community;
- Ken Haycock (Professor and Director of the School of Library and Information Science, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA.) compiles ‘What Works’: Research you can use;
- In the USA Keith Curry Lance investigates the relationship between school libraries and student achievement. An overview of his research is available online and also as a brochure (pdf);
- In 2005 David V. Loertscher compiled a bibliography about school library media programmes and student achievement;
- In 2002 Michele Lonsdale wrote a report for the Australian School Library Association, titled Impact of School Libraries on Student Achievement. A review of the research (pdf);
- In 2006 the Ontario Library Association commissioned the study School libraries & student achievement in Ontario (pdf);
- Dr. Ross Todd and Dr. Carol Kuhlthau conducted the research for Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries : The Ohio Research Study;
- In 2001/2002 Prof. Dorothy Williams, Caroline Wavell and Louisa Coles wrote the reports Impact of School Library Services on Achievement and Learning (pdf) and Impact of School Library Services on Achievement and Learning in Primary Schools (pdf) for Resource (now MLA) in the UK.
Links to many of the research documents mentioned here – and to others – can be found on the research page of the IASL website.
Refer to other important statements
- Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning (Unesco, Ifla and the National Forum on Information Literacy);
- The Prague Declaration: Towards an Information Literate Society;
- The Amsterdam Statement.