Sunday, March 29, 2015

Exemplary School Library Advocacy

When I first started thinking about this blog post, I really wanted to build from the ideas of Evans and Alire (2013) regarding segmentation and differential marketing analysis (p. 271-273). Mass consumer strategies came to my mind such as how McDonald’s will have different commercials run on different television channels.

With this in mind, I tried to look at different school library websites to see if there were any award-winning sites that took this type of approach. One of the better websites that I found was for Brisbane Grammar School. This site does have some clearly organized content sections for population segments such as “Middle School” and “For Teachers,” and overall, the content is very professionally laid out.

Still, I was not feeling particularly motivated to write about this website or other examples that I browsed through -- I think there is a lot of room for improvement across the field -- and so I decided to use a different angle. I remembered following the 2015 CSLA Annual Conference Twitter stream and seeing a presentation title that struck me: “Rising from the Ashes.” Although I had not been able to attend the conference, I did reach out to the presenters from Vista Unified School District months ago, and they graciously sent me a copy of their slide deck. I was intrigued by their topic, impressed by their work, and also inspired because the district is located relatively close to where I live and work.

Conference Presentation Description (below):

Returning to this present assignment, I have visited the district website and am pleased to find that there is a link to the district’s strategic plan for libraries on the main landing page. I also visited the district’s individual school library websites, but they are not necessarily noteworthy, and so my focus regarding marketing and advocacy really centers on the strategic plan itself, which I do believe is exemplary.

There are several features of Vista’s strategic plan that remind me of points brought up by Evans and Alire. First of all, regarding both segmentation and internal marketing, I was pleased to see such diversity on the “Library Services Committee Membership” (Vista Unified School District, 2014, p. 2). The membership not only includes library staff members (i.e., Teacher Librarians and Library Media Technicians), but also representatives from the labor union, Curriculum and Instruction, and Information Technology, as well as school and district administrators, parents, and community members. Thus, we can see intention to represent the voices of many population segments, including internal staff at all different levels.

Another idea from Evans and Alire that stood out to me was definition of “four key reasons why you should consider developing a marketing plan” (p. 265). They describe how competition for resources can result in a decrease of service hours and staffing, and to this point, Vista’s strategic plan employs direct language regarding ensuring equitable access to library services, including action steps to ensure that at the K-8 level, “Libraries will be staffed by library professionals a minimum of 30 minutes before school and a minimum of 1 hour after school for stakeholder access” (p. 5). At the 9-12 level, the after school access is extended to a minimum of 2 hours. There is also a three year plan to increase staffing levels gradually year-by-year, and to expand provisions for resource budgets, professional development, and facility improvements.

Seeing these action steps presented very concretely, and knowing that this plan was approved by the school board, demonstrates to me a very successful advocacy effort. I previously shared a link to the plan with my district librarians, but we never got around to discussing it. Revisiting it for this blog posting is a reminder for me to bring up the discussion once again, because I feel this is a great model to learn from for our own advocacy efforts.


Brisbane Grammar School. (2015). Library: Connecting learners and ideas. Retrieved from

California School Library Association. (2015). CSLA 2015 Saturday concurrent session 4. Retrieved from

[Dowtsx]. (2013, March 6). Segmentation, targeting, and positioning - McDonald’s [Video file]. Retrieved from

Evans, G.E., & Alire, C.A. (2013). Management basics for information professionals (3rd ed.).  New York: Neal-Schuman.

Vista Unified School District. (2014). Model library of educational excellence & innovation: Vista Unified School District - strategic plan. Retrieved from:

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