multi-colored post-its on a wall

Everyday Advocacy: Data and Action Research

May 2016

Gear up for next year’s action research projects by digging into your data now!

Action research is a powerful way to link your work in the school library to the goals, passions, and projects that your stakeholders hold dear. It’s as simple as identifying a problem or a need in your school community and using the library’s resources to address it.

Start by playing with the reports in your library management system and cross-reference them with student performance data. Are there any grade levels with low circulation? Any particular students who don’t check out books as often? Compare that data to those students’ test scores. Consider supporting those students in the upcoming school year. Get to know them and consider purchasing items for your collection or tweaking your lesson plans to address some of their needs directly.

Is your school reviewing data to set academic goals and focus points for next year? Pay attention to those data points now, and begin to plan ways to address them with library instruction, resources, programs, and edTech professional development for teachers.

Pro-Tip: These projects work best when you focus on a small group of students. Consider selecting a particular department or grade-level team to collaborate with on lessons and coordinate strategy.

Track your methods, the process, and data points for the duration of the project. Once the research and the project are complete, show your work!

  • Go to a grade-level or departmental meeting and let teachers know what work you’ve done to improve the selected students’ performance measures. Focus on how much student measures improved in comparison to the previous year’s growth—when they weren’t on your radar.
  • Take your data to the principal during your performance review or include it in your monthly, quarterly, or yearly report!
  • Use Piktochart to create reader-friendly infographics for sharing the good news with the appropriate stakeholders.
  • Send those infographics home in your target students’ report cards.

Using data to guide library instruction and programming is best practice. Additionally, action research helps to center the librarian as an integral part of the school instructional team and enhances the transformational power of libraries. There are so many opportunities to advocate for ourselves just waiting for us in the data.

Happy hunting!


Everyday Advocacy” is a column I wrote in 2016 for DC Public Schools. The column was a part of the district librarians’ monthly newsletter update.

Reviewing this article as a part of my portfolio update reminded me that I’ve written case studies before: primarily for school library services and library collections. If you want me to dig into the data to tell your company’s success stories, let’s talk about how we can sell to your big customers with hard evidence!

Ten picture books piled on a grey table with a cild's tea cup on top/

Everyday Advocacy: Participate in Read Across America Week

March 2016

Read Across America is a week-long celebration of reading and the birthday of Theodore Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss.) Below are some tips for promoting the joy of reading and library services all in one.

  • Displays:
    • Seuss books—If you have any left! Expect them to go quickly. Consider using replicas of the books by inserting printed book covers into empty DVD or VHS cases.
    • Seuss inspired books—find titles that are whimsical and inspiring.
    • Put up a quote wall. Invite teachers and students to share their favorite Seuss quotes.
    • Make a photo booth. Teachers and students can pose for a photo and write about their favorite Dr. Seuss books on an index card or sticky note. This creates a display that can last the entire month. Take it up a notch and set up a computer station where they can self-record a video that you later put on your school or library website. Make sure your school or district has a photo/media release policy and the media that you share is in compliance.
  • Activities
    • Challenge your classroom teachers to a Dr. Seuss or other book-themed door decorating contest. Let the school community vote on the winners. See if your school budget or PTA has funds for a small prize for the teacher and class who wins.
    • Have a reading spirit week, where students and teachers dress up in the spirit of a different popular book-related theme each day.
    • Host a choral reading flash mob in the school cafeteria during lunch. Consider organizing multiple groups: one group reads a Seuss piece, and another reads a poem linked to the curriculum like a Shakespearean sonnet, a Lewis Carroll limerick, etc.

Programs like this galvanize the school community and place the school library at the center of activity because the librarian and a team of happy patrons (students and teachers) serve as catalysts for the effort.

More ideas can be found here.


Everyday Advocacy” is a column I wrote in 2016 for DC Public Schools. The column was a part of the district librarians’ monthly newsletter update.

Everyday Advocacy—Introduction

Patron satisfaction is my secret to top-notch library advocacy. If we librarians do our jobs well, our value speaks for itself, through the mouths of our users. When parents, teachers, and students are vocal about their excitement for the library, its resources, the lessons, and the programs, then our work is done. It’s all about strategic planning.

For instance, when I make video tutorials for teachers that show them how to access our library catalog from home, I get questions like, “How did you make those videos? Can I have students make videos like that?”

Two things happen in that professional development moment.

First, teachers learn two skills that will improve student learning: (1) how to access the catalog and (2) screen recording has limitless teaching and learning applications.

Second, I get an opportunity to build a stronger coaching relationship with teachers because I get invited to show them how to make and use screen recordings for flipped classroom structures, demonstrations, and assessments.

Patron satisfaction is my secret to top-notch library advocacy.

Running engaging programs seems like a no-brainer, but don’t take for granted how impactful an exciting, instructive program can be. Library programs are an opportunity to show the school community what resources the library and librarian have to offer. Student enthusiasm for these activities is contagious. While students are raving about the exciting thing they did or learned at the library today, stakeholders will mainly see that that the librarian generates enthusiasm for learning daily. If it’s done correctly, they’ll also see that the library has a secret sauce, i.e. resources, that enrich the school curriculum, and a librarian who pays attention to learning needs school-wide.

These monthly advocacy tips include suggestions for activities, programs, and lessons that will generate enthusiasm for school libraries and demonstrate how essential they are to multiple stakeholders at a time. All of the suggestions are best practices and easy-to-execute activities that won’t require much more than thinking strategically about how to market what we do each day.

Here’s to garnering more library cheerleaders!


Everyday Advocacy” is a column I wrote in 2016 for DC Public Schools. The column was a part of the district librarians’ monthly newsletter update.