Welcoming New Staff

goodiebagOne of the most important things you can do to create a positive image of you and the library is to reach out to new staff members every year. Remember when you were a new to a school and how overwhelming it was. There is so much to learn from staff members names and their roles, but all the little things that no one ever seems to tell you, like where the staff bathroom is (it took me 3 years to find that out) and how to use the copier! This year I decided to welcome our new staff with a goodie bag filled with:

How do you make a positive first impression with your new staff members?

 

Newsletters

Newsletters are a great way to keep your staff informed of what’s happening in the library or new additions to the library. When I first started as a library media specialist I distributed the good old fashioned paper newsletter, but now there are some great online services available which make it so easy to create, email and track views.

One of my favorite online newsletter services is Smore. It’s really easy to use, you can add text, links, pictures and videos and there are lots of different layout options. The designs are somewhat limited, for example you can’t change text style or size, but they are continually making improvements and adding options. There is a free and a paid “pro” version and I currently just use the free version. With the free version there is a 200 email limit per month, but our district has an one email address which will distribute to the entire high school staff, so I don’t have to enter each individual staff email.

I try to do a newsletter every quarter and when I have something new in the library. When I started our ebook/audiobook service with OverDrive I sent a newsletter specifically for that announcement.

Annual Reports

Annual Reports or a “Year in Review” are a great way to give your administrators an overview of all the great things that are happening in your library. I like to format mine similar to an infographic, with a lot of graphics, statistics, photographs and with limited text. This year I used Piktochart which I found very easy to use and with a lot of ways to customize my report. Administrators are extremely busy and have limited time to read lengthy reports, so this is a great format to give them a quick overview of the library and it should be easy for them to share. Even if you think they aren’t reading and sharing all the great things happening in your library, they are!

End of the School Year

Calendar*In Maine, schools have a winter break in February and then spring break in April. The time between these two breaks just drags by, the weather is awful, there are no sports for students, and there are no holidays or breaks. Then we come back from spring break and the school year speeds up and all of a sudden it’s time to start thinking about the activities that I need to complete by the end of the school year.

    • Set the calendar for when the library will close to students. This depends on how many school days get added onto the calendar because of snow days and is typically a week before the last day of school.
    • Send notices to students listing items they have out and when they need to be returned, typically the last day of school.
    • Send notices to seniors and coordinate with front office the list of seniors who have items out. All seniors are required to have items returned or paid for if lost to receive their cap and gown.
    • Inventory – I have 2 inventories that I need to complete. My technology inventory for the Tech Department and my book/library materials inventory. My library has about 17,000 items that need to be inventoried, which takes about a week to complete.
    • Gather library statistics to create an infographic and year in review to share with the superintendent and principal.
    • Write purchase orders for items that need to be approved and ordered over the summer.

 

What are some of your year end activities?

 

photo by: DafneCholet

Getting Started with Social Media

Social media in schools can be a challenge. Even though social media is a fixture in our students lives, it is not prevalent in many schools. I watch students all day long connecting on social media, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat or the next new social media fad, they are traversing the world of social media without any guides to help them. As much as many teachers do not feel it is important to incorporate social media in their curriculum, I would disagree. It is increasingly important that we teach and model digital citizenship and what better way to do that than in the classroom.

For the school library, social media can be a great marketing tool to not only share all the great things that are happening in your library. I also love to share:

  • recommended books
  • book news
  • what I’m reading
  • technology and research tips
  • inspirational quotes
  • virtual library information
  • entertainment and movie news

How did I get started? Personally I was already on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram so I understood how they worked. My school has an Internet and Computer Use Policy for both students and employees, but there is no specific policy on social media.  Students are allowed to have cell/smartphones in school but they are not supposed to be on social media and while our filter is supposed to block it, I’m sure you know how well students figure out ways around filters and  monitoring smartphones is extremely difficult. Even with these obstacles I believed it was worth the effort. Students may not to be on it at school, they are accessing it outside of school, plus you can also reach parents, school board members and the community, letting them see the impact you are making in the school.

  • First I needed to decide which social media platforms to use. I decided to start with Facebook since that was what I saw students on most of the time. Social media takes a lot of time, and since I didn’t have any help I wanted to focus on one first (I later added Twitter).
  • Second I needed to convince my principal that having a Facebook account for the library was a good idea. Even though students aren’t allowed on Facebook in school he thought there was a benefit and approved my request. I think this prompted him to start a Facebook page for the school, which was awesome!
  • Once I got our Facebook page up and running I had to get students to actually “like” the page. My library aides were a big help with this as well as students that were regular library visitors. This definitely takes a lot of ongoing work but it’s completely worth it. I think it would be much easier if students were “allowed” to be on social media at school, then I could have students go and “like” the page when I’m working with a class or have posters with QR codes that link to the library virtual resources and social media.
  • Next year I would like to let my student library aides help. I think this would be a great opportunity to get them invested and reach more students, but also teach digital citizenship as well as real world job skills. Many companies are embracing social media and providing careers in this growing market (6 Social Media Jobs That Will Be Big in 2014).

Social media is here to stay and it is a great way to connect to students and to market what we do, not only to our students but to parents and the community. Feel free to check out my libraries Facebook and Twitter pages.

Are you using social media in your school library? What are some tips or strategies you have used that have made your social media presence successful?

Marketing Your Virtual Library to Staff

This past week the middle school librarian and I presented to a small group of teachers about our virtual library resources. Just having this small group is a big success, since the last time this was offered no one showed up. The presentation took place after school in the middle school library so the majority of the teachers were from the middle school.

It was a short one hour presentation jam packed with information; I think we may have overwhelmed them, but I’m sure they walked away with valuable information! The middle and high school have a lot of cross over when it comes to what we have available, from Maine’s Virtual Library MARVEL, to the databases we subscribe to and the middle school librarian focused on these, while I presented how to access our new e-book and audiobook collection through OverDrive.

Some other ways to market your library resources to staff:

  • Department meetings
  • Lunch time presentations
  • After school presentations
  • Newsletters
  • On the fly when you hear a teacher talking about a classroom project. This has worked wonders numerous times, whether it’s a virtual resource or just a book that would work well. Always keep your ears open and don’t be afraid to ask about what cool stuff is going on in their classroom.

We have an abundance of resources available to staff and students and marketing all these resources can take a lot of time and energy, but it is extremely important that we do this. The library is not only a physical space but it is now a virtual presence that can be used outside the library. Marketing these resources so that they used and are considered important to the school curriculum will ensure that the library is considered a vital asset and resource. We hope this small group will spread the word to other staff and more importantly use these resources with their students. One teacher has already scheduled his classes for the library and lots of e-books/audiobooks have been checked out by students, so I would say it was a success!