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It’s All About Relationships


his month’s column is devoted entirely to MLS: Marketing Library Services. And there’s a theme that ties it all together: Making personal connections is the way to get just about anything done, from the college level all the way to the state government.

Legislators Get Booked In 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Education eliminated the Division of School Library Services. That’s when the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) legislation committee was given the task of re-establishing a school library presence in Harrisburg, the state capital. Committee member Debra Kachel’s article, “Inviting Legislators Into School Libraries” (MLS, March/April, pp. 1–3), reveals how the committee developed a state advocacy plan, one that led the Pennsylvania state legislature to vote unanimously to fund a study to determine if students had the necessary access to library resources to learn. Retired school librarians (which Kachel is herself) traveled to Harrisburg to meet with legislators serving in education committees in the state House and Senate. It soon became clear that the legislators knew little about school library programs: Some were shocked to learn that Pennsylvania did not mandate libraries in

schools. For those schools with libraries, programs ranged from practically nonexistent to well-staffed. For example, in Philadelphia, more than half of the 258 schools no longer have a library, while schools in the city’s wealthier districts have extensive library resources. The legislators wanted answers: “How many schools in my district don’t have libraries?” and “How much does it cost to have a good school library?” To highlight the role that school librarians play in education, the next step was to have legislators witness these programs in action. Retired PSLA members, who were trained as “event planners,” worked in tandem with school librarians; their tasks included determining which legislators to invite, advising librarians on visitation activities, and arranging for

It soon became clear that the legislators knew little about school library programs. … media coverage. Librarian duties included approving visits with their school, selecting a date, hosting the event, and sending thank-you notes. Legislators received info packets including a background sheet about the host school library, one-page hand-

outs such as Legislator @ Your Library Campaign, and recent newspaper articles about school libraries. Since 2009, 20 legislators have visited school libraries, and 20 more visits are in the planning stages. Librarians are now gaining recognition as leaders working to bring educational opportunities to their schools. And the PSLA is garnering a reputation as a credible, 800-plus-member education organization with a vital message: All kids, regardless of their ZIP codes, deserve the opportunities provided by library programs with certified librarians at the helm. The survey questions for the study the Pennsylvania legislation voted to fund are now being developed via SurveyMonkey in cooperation with the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.

Establishing Residency

State Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Pa.) looked enthusiastic when he visited students of Hempfield High School in Landisville, Pa., on March 25, 2010.


In the How-To article in the January/February issue of MLS, “Establishing New Relationships: The Library and Residential Life Partnerships” (pp. 1, 4–5), Sami Lange, a library assistant at Sonoma State University Library (Rohnert Park, Calif.), outlines how she worked with residential life coordinators (RLC) to expand the library’s student outreach program. When Lange met with an RLC who worked in the transfer student dorm, she discovered that residential life staff members must offer programs that relate to the social and academic development of the

students in each dorm. After attending RLC “poster” sessions (in which RLCs worked with the campus community to spread the word about these programs), Lange identified the dorms that seemed best suited to collaborate with the library. One was the second-year dorm with the “U-Engage” theme of academic achievement and career-related work. Brandon, this dorm’s RLC, was enthusiastic about working with Lange; this led to a successful year of collaborative marketing promotions that featured small promotional “pushes” and a few bigger events for residential life staff advocacy. The spring 2010 academic resource fair allowed library staff “to interact informally with the students and introduce the library resources in a relaxed but informal manner.” At a job fair presentation, Lange distributed a library resource flier and told students, “No matter where you are on your career path, the library has something for you.” Brandon now distributes info about library outreach events and new services (such as the 24/7 study hall during finals weeks) to his dorm residents; Lange is a regular at the RLC planning meetings and mentions library collections that might be relevant for a certain event or idea. Through this connection with the RLC, Lange has helped the library meet its goal of creating a strong partnership with campus contacts while promoting all the library has to offer its students.

Lauree Padgett is Information Today, Inc.’s senior managing editor. Send your comments about this column to


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It's All About Relationships  

Lauree Padgett

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