Teacher Librarians Campaign
We petitioned. We wrote letters. We talked to the media. We got an Inquiry. We got a tabled Report. Many central concerns were not strongly addressed. Still, we have have a published report with recommendations and a resource file of 387 submissions! Now more than ever we need to keep up the campaign. In each state and territory, as well as federally.
So please continue to write and ring members and senators in your electorate now. Here is one letter to use or change as you wish. Here is a longer sample letter you can adapt for your local federal member or senator. You can find contact details for federal members and senators here.
You can locate your state or territory parliamentary members through this site.
Write a letter today or better yet ring their office. Let’s get every politician supporting the need for a teacher librarian in every school library now! Another sample letter to local members.
Minister for Education, Peter Garrett, needs to be given lyrics to a new song: That school libraries ARE as much a responsibility for the federal government as national curriculums, national partnership agreements and national education policies. Let’s inundate his office to let him know what the federal government can do to ensure quality school library services for our nation’s teachers and students.
The Minister for Education, Early Childhood and Youth
or use his contact form as Minister
or write to PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Canberra ACT 2600
Let your local media know. Speak to talk back radio. Talk about the issues, the disappearance of trained TLs in our schools. The disappearance of TL tertiary training courses. And the difference a trained TL can make to student literacy and learning.
COMMUNICATING WITH POLITICIANS and THE MEDIA
Politicians welcome your opinions. You are helping to keep them informed, so be direct and friendly. Tell them how they can help their constituents and the children of their constituents. Include your contact snailmail details. Send copies to The Hub at HelloHub@gmail.com, including any responses. Key messages are to encourage:
• the inclusion of school libraries in their platform
• the need to increase school library funding and staffing
• the significant contribution teacher librarians make to student achievement
Use the letter to ask questions. Find out what they know and what they have done and what they intend to do. Ask similar questions of all members and candidates, so you can compare responses before an election.
Step One Find your local member’s contact details. They will forward your message to the Minister, or you can send a copy direct to the minister. Find your local candidates contact details. Use this page for links to current federal politicians.
Step Two Feel free to use any of our Sample Letters , change bits, or write one of your own. Consider also circulating a petition.
Step Three Send copies of your email or letter or petition and any responses to HelloHub@gmail.com for a collation of responses.
Here’s one sent by Hubber, Dona Hartwich, to Julia Gillard about supplying computers vs supplying teacher librarians.
Step Four Once you have established some communication with your member, phone them, visit them and keep the message coming.
Ringing a Politician
If you’re able to find time to make a phone call, you’ll almost certainly be speaking to a member of staff rather than Minister himself, so begin by requesting that your message be passed to the Minister and his climate change advisers. If it’s after hours, leave a message.
If it’s your first time making a call to a politician, they’re very used to phone calls from concerned citizens and are very friendly and receptive – they may very well also agree with what you say! It’ll take less than 5 minutes all up – unless of course you immediately form a friendship for life!
COMMUNICATING WITH THE MEDIA
Write Letters to the Editor
Always keep your letter to 150 words to give it maximum chance of getting published. Include contact details for verification.
Adelaide Advertiser: submit letter here. Click on Send Letter to Editor
The Age: email letters to email@example.com
The Australian: email letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Australian Financial Review: email letters to email@example.com
Canberra Times: email letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Courier Mail: submit letter at http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/editorials/letters-form
The Daily Telegraph: email letters to email@example.com
The Herald Sun: submit letter at www.news.com.au/heraldsun/editorial/letter
Mercury: email letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sydney Morning Herald: email letters to email@example.com
The West Australian: email letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use opportunities to respond
• Be alert to items in the news which are related to school libraries: literacy, IT, the national curriculum, all sorts of education issues. Respond through press release, feedback forums, and letters to the editor. (Here is a sample response.)
• Identify the journalists and editors who cover education issues. If one of them writes a story about an issue related to school libraries, send them anything that might add to the story. Start a media file of contacts. Read more at OurCommunity.com.au
• Offer informed views. Give a brief critique of an issue up front, then outline the more detailed stuff in an attachment.
• Target popular papers such as the Telegraph, which is widely read. You’ll have more chance of getting a run because it has more stories each day. In NSW, it and the SMH set the agenda for the day’s radio news and talkback and TV news.
Issue Media Releases (Here is a sample mediarelease2)
- Media releases should be one page and easy to understand on a positive contribution of your school library or library group, a conference, a guest speaker, a special celebration, an award. Make sure school library is the focus. ”Until Ms Rault was hired two years ago to promote a ‘love of literacy’, the school didn’t have a library teacher. “
- Give them a punchy headline that attracts attention. Make the headline fairly big and in a different font from the text. “Australian teacher librarians present the ‘too hard basket’ to Minister of Education”
- Have a “hook” for your story. “Hooks” might include an author visit, a new library mentoring program for pre-service teachers, the TL’s role in the Premier’s Reading Challenge, National Reading Day, International School Library Day. eg An article on International School Library Day describes the blogsite set up between an Illawarra school and its UK counterpart. The TL goes on to describe research which encourages thinking.
- Make sure your contact person is available, including after office hours (if possible, get a mobile number, and have two contacts).
- Make sure the first sentence sums up the key point you’re making.
- Include the 5Ws. Who is doing it? What is happening? Where is it? When is it taking place? Why is it happening? A hamper of tea and important reading was delivered last…..by two local school girls, …..and …… to Minister of Education, Julia Gillard. The girls, and their mother, Leonie Paatsch, hoped Ms Gillard would enjoy reading about the importance of school libraries and professional teacher librarians in their learning.
- Mention the full name of your organization, but not at the very beginning. Give details about its function and approximate membership size. “Further information can be found at The Hub: Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia http://hubinfo.wordpress.com/ led by a think tank of 17 teacher librarians and supporters from across Australia.”
- People want to hear about people. If you can, include an individual’s story. Include a photo, WITH caption, or details on when and where a photo can be taken by a press photographer, with someone who is prepared to be photographed, quoted and named.
- Make your direct quotes colourful and catchy, yet informative. Try and write direct quotes so they sound spoken rather than written.
- Make sure facts are accurate. Don’t defame anyone.
- Check spelling and grammar. Have another person check it.
- Mention any opportunity for taking a picture for print media, good sounds for radio, or good vision for TV.
- Exploit slow news days: Sundays and public holidays.
- Use humour or novelty. News can be a pretty dull and serious business and journalists are often looking for something colourful or funny to entertain their audience.
- There is also the option of “Letters to the Editor” often one of the best read sections of a newspaper.
Recognise the importance of local newspapers
Local newspapers are a great way to get coverage in your area. Don’t underestimate their importance. They tend to be widely read in the community. Daily newspapers also monitor the suburban papers carefully and pick up on any important stories, so it can be a useful way of bringing to prominence something you’ve been unable to get a run with in metropolitan or national news outlets.
An excellent toolkit for Advocating in a Tough Economy and Add It Up, research and statistics to help advocates make the case for libraries in education has been produced by the American Library Association.
See also state associations, such as the New York Library Association Advocacy Tools.
Further examples of getting into the media.