The Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL) found many residents did not have an understanding of what school librarians do and wanted to raise awareness of the vital role certified school librarians and strong school library programs play in ensuring students have the best chance to succeed in today’s digital world.
To try to change the old, stereotypical view of school libraries and librarians as being just the keepers of the books, MASL decided to adopt the ALA’s Libraries Transform initiative and start its own public awareness campaign: Missouri School Libraries Transform.
MASL President Amy Taylor said, “Libraries Transform is an already-made campaign with strong branding and positive messaging that can be adapted to community needs. We thought why recreate the wheel if we don’t’ have to? Plus, there wasn’t a lot of extra money for marketing and public relations so Libraries Transform was a perfect fit for us.”
Two billboards were created incorporating the Libraries Transform “Because” language to kick off MASL’s campaign this past April. The billboard statements read: “Missouri School Libraries Transform Because they provide students with a portal to endless knowledge” and “Missouri School Libraries Transform Because they provide students with access to books, technology and so much more.”
Billboard space was rented on the two major highways leading into Jefferson City, Missouri’s capital, to ensure the messages were seen by state legislators, their staff and other stakeholders and decision-makers as well as the general public. The billboards proved to be popular and were tweeted and retweeted on social media.
Libraries Transform messaging was also tailored and used in MASL materials, including a new member website for campaign materials and press releases.
MASL will continue to use Libraries Transform in future advocacy and outreach efforts. Plans are underway to create information packets to be handed out at the Missouri School Board’s annual convention.
Taylor said the feedback on the MASL campaign has been extremely positive. Members see the association is advocating on their behalf. She’s also heard that members are energized about working together towards a common goal of better educating the public about the value of school librarians and libraries.
Taylor encourages everyone to visit librariestransform.org to take a look at the online toolkit and real stories section for ideas on how adapt the campaign for different communities. She said the website was invaluable in helping MASL get started on their path.