NSLA News - December 2018: Alexandra Ball, Karla Wendelin Continuing Education Scholarship Recipient
When it comes to library programming, we typically think of events and incentives designed for our students. However, as school librarians, we would be remiss if we were to ignore another important group of patrons: fellow teachers and school staff. Because we spend so much of our days working with students, it is easy to forget about teachers as patrons. However, teachers are indeed our school library patrons not only with resources used in classroom teaching, but also for personal use. Additionally, teachers have a great potential to be library advocates within our school building, district, and the community at large.
I have used several ways to get staff involved and interested in the library, including having a display of staff picks, “guess the book” contests, and hosting informational breakfasts before school. While these have all had varying levels of success, I have had the greatest success with a library challenge I created for staff during the third quarter of this past school year. At the beginning of the quarter, I gave out a flyer with ten different activities staff could choose from. These activities varied in their level of involvement, from simply stopping by the library to say hello, to bringing their class to the library for an activity or lesson. Along with the flyer, I sent out a video explaining the challenge and the different prize levels. Teachers were able to earn prizes based on the number of activities they completed, and I promised that anyone who completed all ten would get their choice of coffee or fresh baked cookies.
My goals with this challenge were that teachers would become more familiar with the library and its resources, including the expertise I could help bring to their classrooms. By the end of third quarter, over half of the staff had participated in the challenge, with several teachers completing all ten activities. Even greater than numbers however, were the responses teachers gave, sharing that they used library resources (such as our ebook collection) that they would have otherwise not explored, and were now thinking about how else they could use the library in the future.
Classroom teachers and school staff are in unique positions to be strong advocates for our school libraries. However, this power is lost if staff do not feel there is a place in the library for them, or are unaware for the library’s resources. Focusing on programming specifically targeted to teachers and staff can help promote the school library in new and fun ways that help engage everyone in the school.
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