Advocacy Research Continues to Reach The Choir

I just received the March 2013 issue of School Library Journal; arguably one of the best resources for teacher-librarians and library media specialists. And with great gusto I quickly leafed through the issue to locate those little nuggets that I will head back to read in greater detail later this week. 

And once again, I found another teacher-librarian and school library advocacy paper; this one by school library consultant Keith Curry Lance and Mansfield University professor Debra E. Kachel.

Illustration by David Flaherty

My immediate reaction was “Here we go again.” Another instance of great research (proof positive) that supports our collective teacher-librarian advocacy efforts that will (invariably) be read by the converted and never reach the eyes of those we need as co-collaborators and advocates: our school principal and superintendents.

Here are my thoughts as shared with School Library Journal editor-in-chief Rebecca T. Miller in an email response:

Hi Rebecca:

Another great SLJ issue!

I think that what Lance and Kachel share in their article is really nothing new, nor groundbreaking in any sense of teacher-librarianship research and advocacy. We KNOW that TLs matter to achievement in schools. WE—teacher-librarians and our few external advocates—but that’s about it.

But here’s the real problem: we don’t have the ears of those we need to have. We need to get these articles and this research into the journals of the real educational decision-makers: administrative officers. Hartzell is so on the money in his belief that when we publish in TL-oriented magazines and share with our administrators it really comes across as only self-serving. So true!

It’s not about WHAT, but really a question about WHERE…

Would it not be more powerful and productive to get these sorts of articles and TL-related research into administrative officer magazines (for example, Phi Delta Kappa)? Go where they decision-makers go to advocate for change in school libraries and a re-valuing of teacher-librarian role?

I feel as though these types of articles (and their related research) only speak to the choir when they appear in magazines like SLJ, LMC, and Teacher-Librarian.

Keep the research coming, but remember that we need to get the word out to the folks that make staffing and financial decisions, and in most provinces in Canada (and I would suspect in most US states); that we need to grab the ears of the school principal and superintendent and bend them a  little bit more.

Just some thoughts (for what they are worth!).

Keep up the amazing work!


Jeff Yasinchuk
VP Advocacy
British Columbia Teacher-Librarians’ Association

I am hopeful that I will hear back from Rebecca soon. And I am also hopeful that perhaps as someone with a bit of influence and connections in the educational publishing industry Rebecca might offer to help forward the teacher-librarian/school library cause and take these (and future) research efforts forward to her colleagues in the educational administration field to share with those stakeholders that really can affect change in our schools and educational values.

Fingers (optimistically) crossed…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s