Getting your school library out there

How does your school community know what's happening with your library? Do you spread the news about good things happening there?

Consider ways that you can market your library to acknowledge and celebrate its collections, services, events, and the benefits for students and teachers. In short, marketing your library is a great thing to do.

Library outdoor sign
Library by Ellen Forsyth. CC BY-NC 2.0.

The 4Ps

Thinking about and using the marketing approach of 4Ps — product, price, promotion, and place — is a great way to help ensure your school community knows about and uses your library's collections and services.

Think about how you can use the 4Ps to raise awareness of your library's collection and services and to share any news or plans you have for what your library offers:

  • Product — what is it you're offering? Whether it's a tangible item (like a book) or an intangible service (like teaching research skills), it should satisfy a specific need or demand.
  • Price — what is the value of what you're offering? Your library services and collections are free, so consider the value users see in them. What problem do they help solve or opportunity do they provide?
  • Promotion — how do your library users know what the library offers? Getting communication right is vital — think about the channels, language, and messaging you'll use.
  • Place — how do you make everything your library offers easy for people to access and use? The physical library space, outside the library (throughout the school), and online access are all options to consider.

This is a tried and true framework for getting your library out there to staff, students, and the community.

Connecting with staff

Connecting with staff regularly about your library collections and services is a great way to promote the value of the library. Here are some practical ways you can do this:

  • Promote the library collections — use posters, book talks, staff library visits, or library newsletters to update staff on interesting, new, or useful aspects of the collection. Develop teachers as readers.
  • Promote loans from the National Library to the staff in a shared space. A friendly, timely reminder in the staff room to make requests for loans is also a good way to promote collaboration in resourcing the curriculum.
  • Let them know how you can work with them to develop approaches to inquiry learning, digital literacy, or digital citizenship.
  • Provide research support for teaching as inquiry — help teachers focus on improving outcomes for learners.
  • Let teachers know when and how your library acknowledges or celebrates significant events. Share your plans for library displays, activities, additions to the collections, or ways you can support related learning in the classroom. Look for opportunities to collaborate with teaching colleagues to spread awareness of the event throughout the school.

The timing — a key element of 'place' — of promotion is important to maximise impact within a school's busy schedule.

Connecting with students

Think about your students as readers and learners. Try to communicate the benefits of reading for pleasure and having information/digital/media literacy skills in ways that connect with students' lives. Encourage them to make use of the library beyond scheduled class times.

It's important that the library collections are easy to access. Can you extend access to students at times that suit them? Before and after school as well as lunchtimes are worth considering. Having online access to the library catalogue and any digital collections also enables students to find and use resources outside school hours.

Regularly acknowledging or celebrating library use — by a class or a group of students — helps to promote the use of the collections and services. School assemblies, notices, or newsletters are all great ways to do this.

Connecting with your school community

What ways does your school currently connect with parents and the wider school community? Is it emails, Facebook, or an app?

Find out how your community looks for information to connect with the school. What happens when someone searches for your library (information) online? What would parents like to know about your library?

Knowing this means you can make sure you use the best channels for sharing information about the library — whether that's part of the schools' existing communications, or whether you should start your own. Think about the possibilities of contributing to the school newsletter. How about starting your own library newsletter?

Whatever you choose, plan your connections with the community around the products (and services), the price (or value), and the place (access) that work best for them.

Tell your story

Being authentic, being proud, and being engaging are all important elements when connecting with your library users. What makes your library:

  • special
  • unique
  • valuable?

Narratives are powerful — aim to tell your story as you get your library out there.

Need inspiration?

Have a look at the stories and videos on our website. They showcase innovative, imaginative, and successful initiatives happening in school libraries around New Zealand. Through creativity and close relationships with teachers, the school librarians in these stories have designed services that inspire and engage students with reading and learning.

By Samuel Beyer

Samuel is the Senior Specialist (Online Learning) for Services to Schools.

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