One-Question Survey
Telling the Library Story

This month we asked librarians how they tell and share the story of their school library. The results show the most-used method for this to be reports to administrators (63%). A close second, with 60% of respondents, is Twitter. Other top answers are email (50%), Facebook (47%), and newsletters (45%).

Talk to Administrators

One respondent shared an interesting concern: "While I have a desire to share my library story with a louder social media presence, I feel nervous about...the views of my administration. Many people are getting in trouble for very mild and innocent posts online in my district. I keep my digital sharing to our school class dojo account." While sharing within a school forum, like ClassDojo, communicates with other teachers and administrators, you are likely missing many stakeholders who don't use that forum. If you have concerns about what your administration is looking for, now is a great time to start that conversation. You could set up a meeting with some curated examples of how other librarians share to start a discussion about a positive direction for the library's social media presence. (See below for some examples.)

Another concern, when sharing photos or videos of our students, is privacy. Just as we protect student privacy in terms of checkouts, we also need to know our schools' policies on the public display of student images. Your school may be very open to this and use media-release forms signed at the beginning of the year, but it's important you know who the students are who have not given permission. This is another part of the conversation that should happen with your administration, to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Other Outlets

Twenty-five percent of respondents reported that they use Instagram to help tell the story of their library. Instagram is a great alternative, especially if you want to restrict viewing to certain individuals. You can leave it open for everyone to enjoy or you can set it so you approve requests to follow your account. Don't forget that Instagram also allows for short videos, making it is easy to share a visual story of your classroom.

Only 20% of respondents mentioned using a website or blog. You likely already have one of these and it can be a good place to start. Work with your website administrator to make sure your page is easy to find. Social media accounts can be used to promote a blog or website, and conversely, websites and blogs can have social media feeds embedded in them to seamlessly connect your streams of communication.

Unfortunately, school librarians may feel overwhelmed by choices. One comment from this month's survey demonstrates this: "Too many social media avenues inhibit my willingness to share. Whatever I do, someone tells me I should be doing more." Telling our story is important, but you do not need to stress. If you would prefer to stick to one tool, do some research first. Is your school already using a platform? Are teachers more active on one than another? Leverage the momentum that already exists in your community before choosing how to contribute. One respondent mentioned, "I have definitely seen an uptick in comments, discussions, and collaborations since I've posted what we do in the Library on Instagram and pushed those posts to Facebook (where I am friends with a lot of my coworkers and administrators)." This is a great example of primarily using one platform, but pushing your message to another in order to capture a wider audience. The more we get our story out there, the more we are in our stakeholders' awareness.

What to Share

Circulation data and end-of-year reports are important, but it is difficult to tell the true story of your library with those alone. Photos and videos can show the excitement of students' choosing their own books. A picture can show the concentration of students working together. Videos of student work can be a source of pride for them. Videos of yourself can bring a personal spin to your story. Good news! When it is time for that more formal report or update, you will have tons of visuals to plug in, which can be a reminder of the numerous, powerful experiences students have in our libraries.

Inspiration

Andy Plemmons — https://expectmiraculous.com/

Diana Rendina — http://www.renovatedlearning.com/blog/

Tiffany Whitehead — http://www.mightylittlelibrarian.com/

Nikki Robertson — http://www.nikkidrobertson.com/

Future Ready Librarians Public Facebook Group — https://www.facebook.com/groups/futurereadylibrarians/

Jennifer Casa-Todd's List of Teacher Librarians on Twitter — https://twitter.com/JCasaTodd/lists/teacher-librarians/members

Book Riot's Rundown of School Libraries on Instagram — https://bookriot.com/2018/05/20/school-libraries-on-instagram/

About the Authors

James Allen is a teacher librarian and EDhub Director at Eminence Independent, a K–12 public school in Kentucky. He is an organizer and regular moderator of #KyLChat, which gives librarians across Kentucky a place to share and explore new ideas. He is also a co-founder of the #KyGoPlay movement, which is changing the way people think about libraries, makerspaces, and play in school. James is a Google for Education Certified Innovator. He is also a past president of the Kentucky Association of School Librarians.

Jen Gilbert, MSLIS, is a K-12 teacher librarian at Eminence Independent Schools in Eminence, KY and part-time faculty at the University of Kentucky. She earned her bachelor's in English teaching from Brigham Young University and her master's in library and information science from the University of Kentucky.

Jen loves spending her days in her school library, the EDhub, and promises a VIP tour to any fellow school librarians who want to check out the EDhub's impressive maker space.

MLA Citation Allen, James, and Jennifer Gilbert. "Telling the Library Story." School Library Connection, September 2019, schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Survey/2217064.

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Entry ID: 2217064

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