The school library; a place the students visit weekly for class or book checkout, and a place many parents only see 2-3 times a year at conferences and open house. As a school librarian, how do you market and publicize your space? Why do you need to market and publicize your school library? If you are interested in any of these topics, this is the blog for you.

The majority of school districts have a web-site. Within that site, individual schools in the district also have a link. It is an important communication tool for schools to share information with parents and the community. While many parents visit the school websites, how many venture over to the library dedicated page? The answer is found in another question. Have you given parents a reason to visit your school library page?

How do you market your school library? I would suggest focusing on web programs and tools that the majority of your parents already have accounts for, and access to. Facebook and Twitter are two social media accounts that many parents are already engaged with on a daily basis. Getting them to follow your library is then “only a click away.”

Why do you need to market and publicize your school library? Parents want to know what their kids are doing in school. A school library website, or Facebook/Twitter account is an excellent way to keep parents informed, and promote the great things happening in the school library. District and school websites keep parents up to date on the formalities. Try focusing your website or social media account on students work or thinking. According to an article published in the Educational Digest by Raven Padgett “Visitors want quick, easy access. The easier to navigate, the more likely they will return.” Post pictures with short captions to help explain what the students are doing.

Another reason to have a school library website is to strengthen the bond between school and home environments. According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive in 2007, kids between the ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 44.5 hours/week in front of screens. According to a 2010 Kaiser Family report, “8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).” What are kids viewing for over 7 hours a day? Having a safe place for your students to visit is essential. School library websites can provide students with safe links for approved educational sites. Yes, students can just “Google” the site they are looking for, but a forgetful memory, or misplaced letters here and there may not send students to the sites they were using in class, causing the students to become frustrated. The students will also be more apt to use the sites they are learning about in school, if it is easy for them to have access at home. Having an up-to-date school library website will also give parents piece of mind that there children are visiting safe, school approved sites.

The final reason you need to market and publicize your space is for community support. By marketing your library, you are in control of what parents and community members are seeing. It gives you the chance to focus on the positives. A quick search of any local newspaper will usually provide something happening within the school district. Many of these stories can be less than flattering. By marketing and publicizing what is happening in your library it gives you all the control. You are able to focus and showcase all of the positive things, instead of what the paper chooses to publish in a “click driven” media environment. Community support also involves funding possibilities. It is no secret that school funding has tightened over the years. As budgets tighten, how do you still provide your students with new books, technology, and other tools for learning? According to Intuit Turbo Tax, “The IRS allows you to claim a deduction for the donations you make to qualified organizations. These organizations include more than just charities and will include any school district program that does not operate for profit and is solely supported by state and local governments.” Marketing and publicizing your school library gives you a chance to connect with community members that may be able to provide you with monetary donations for new resources.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the “how’s” and “why’s” of publicizing and marketing your school library. Do you have ideas or ways that you are marketing and publicizing your school library? Please share those ideas in the comments section for further discussion. I look forward to discussing school libraries with everyone. Written by Dan Dabrowski, 7/12/15

Resources:

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
http://kff.org/other/event/generation-m2-media-in-the-lives-of/

IKeepSafe
http://ikeepsafe.org/be-a-pro/balance/too-much-time-online/

Using school websites to support parent engagement Piper, Tracy Leadership; Nov/Dec 2012; 42, 2; ProQuest Research Library pg. 36

Turbo Tax
https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/General-Tax-Tips/Are-Contributions-to-School-District-Programs-Tax-Deductible-/INF14346.html

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