Monday, June 29, 2015

Advocacy Made Easy - Letter to the Editor

Previously on the IASL blog (here, here, here, here, here and here), posts have encouraged you to tell the story of your library through newsletters, social media, meeting new teachers, and communication with your legislators. These are all key elements to keeping your community informed of the vital role you play in the education of our students. Another effective venue for advocacy is a bit more "old-school" - a letter to the editor.

How can you craft the perfect letter to your local news media? How do you ensure that your message will appeal both to stakeholders in your community and those in our government?  

Of course, organization of letters can vary widely, but remember to include a clear problem and solution, keep it concise, and look for ways to lend authority to your message with statistics, anecdotes, and references to state/national laws or educational best practices.

1. Know your paper. Most newspapers now have an online submission form for opinion letters. Check there for submission guidelines, including length requirements which range between 200-500 words. Some papers will accept longer submissions to be published as Guest Opinions rather than in the letters section. When in doubt, send the longer version - the paper will contact you about length if they are interested in publishing. Don't be shy about submitting your letter to multiple publications - the wider audience for your message, the better!

2. Know your message. In 200-500 words, you won't be able to write a dissertation on how valuable school libraries are to our students, so pick one major theme to focus on in your letter. Did a recent event inspire you to write? Is there something you can celebrate and tie to your program? Is there a problem you'd like people to help solve?  Make your first paragraph grab the attention of your readers and want to read on.

3. Keep it positive. It's easy to get whiny when trying to advocate for a program few seem to understand. It's important that your letter doesn't seem defensive - rather than complain that "no one gets it," be straightforward and explain what students/staff/community members gain from Teacher Librarians.

4. Keep it factual. Just as it's easy to go negative, it's easy to get emotional. Certainly, being enthusiastic and passionate in your letter will improve your persuasive power, but be sure to stay professional. Anecdotes and stories are fantastic ways to illustrate your point, but so are numbers. Try to include one or two statistics that will appeal to the practical side of your readers' thinking.

5.Call for Action. Your letter should end with a call for some kind of action - whether it's to vote a certain way, to speak to a community leader, or just to visit a local library - leave your audience wanting to do something.

Below is an example of a 500 word letter published in Iowa City's Press Citizen. Click here to see PDF version.
Letter by Chelsea Sims, Teacher Librarian.

What message does your community need to hear? Gather your thoughts and start writing! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Call for Resources to Update IASL Resource Page

Check out our recently updated IASL resources web page organized by Symbaloo.

The Iowa Association of School Librarians (IASL) righted a legislative ...

Feel free to use the comment below to give your suggested resources to add the web page. Look for updated IASL resources in the fall!

Friday, June 12, 2015

IASL Outstanding Library Program Award

The IASL Outstanding Library Program Award recognizes teacher librarians from across the state of Iowa who have completed a portfolio providing evidence from four separate categories.

These categories include:
-Qualifications of Staff
-Teaching and Learning
-Library Management
-Administrative Support
Applicants can reapply every three years.

This year’s recipients also completed a written statement about their library vision, shared proud moments from their library from, and how their teaching has had a positive effect on student learning.
We want to recognize three recipients this year from the Marshalltown Community School District.

Erin Faas – Rogers Elementary
Sue Inhelder – Marshalltown High School
Beth Steffa – Anson Elementary


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Congratulations to Becky Johnson Winner YALSA 2015 Teens' Top Ten Book Giveaway!

CHICAGO – Becky Johnson, teacher librarian at Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids, is one of 60 winners in the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) 2015 Teens’ Top Ten Book Giveaway.
Johnson will receive a set of 24 teen acclaimed young adult titles from a variety of genres. The grant was funded by The Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The Teens' Top Ten is a "teen choice" list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year. Teens everywhere can nominate their favorite titles to become the official nominees of the upcoming Teens' Top Ten.
“Thanks to Dollar General and YALSA for helping me provide teens in my school the opportunity to enjoy these great young adult titles and participate in the annual Top Ten voting,’’ said Johnson, who is completing her 15th year at Jefferson High School.
Nominations are posted on the Thursday of National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year between August 15 and the close of Teen Read Week™, Oct. 24.

For more information, ideas, and resources for libraries to use to incorporate the Teens’ Top Ten into summer reading/learning programs, download the free Teens’ Top Ten Toolkit.  
Image result for yalsa

Monday, June 1, 2015

Catch the Wave of Summer Reading: Partnering with Public Libraries, School Libraries & Family

Remember to encourage students to support the public library and READ!

Iowa Summer Reading Workshop
Iowa Library Services and Summer Reading Programs
Iowa Reading Research Center
PBS Learning Media Sources for Summer

A excellent example on how to encourage reading on the IASL blog My Summer is Booked.

On the home front I look forward to responding to my 10 year old nephews challenge to see who can read the most number of pages this summer. :)

Happy Reading!!!