July 27, 2020

The message your library must send to students and teachers this year is… we’re here for you.

Normally, the back-to-school season is filled with excitement. Parents are buying backpacks and lunch boxes, filling pencil cases, and practicing the walk to the bus stop. Libraries are pulling collections of books for teachers, planning outreach visits, and scheduling library tours for classes. 

This year holds a lot of unknowns. The one thing we do know is that learning will begin, in some form or fashion, and that libraries will be a crucial part of the support system for learners, educators, and parents, more than ever before. Here are the three big steps you’ll need to take this school year to ensure your community knows how to find educational support at your library. 

Plan. Your library has many resources, but not all resources are aimed at every learner. Create a spreadsheet to outline the distinct groups or audiences who look to your library for educational support. That includes traditional teachers of all grade levels, homeschoolers and their instructors, remote learners and their instructors, adult learners and their instructors, and parents or caregivers.  

Next, make a list of all the educational resources your library provides, including books, online databases, homework help services, and research assistance. Be sure to include information your librarians have on hand concerning mental health resources for students and teachers. Create lists of books or movies that help teachers and students deal with anxiety and offer a comforting escape from the stresses of school. 

Now, take your audience list and your resource list and begin to match your audiences to the resources they need most. This exercise will help you to target your messages, which will make any library marketing you do this school year more effective.  

Pro tip: LibraryAware subscribers can find booklist templates in all formats for promotion. 

Click the image to download a free printable of this flyer. LibraryAware subscribers will find it by searching coping.

Schedule your promotions. An editorial calendar will help you to intentionally focus messages about your educational resources throughout the school year. Consider the school year calendar. When will students at your local community college or university take their finals? When will standardized tests be given? Will your local elementary school hold themed reading events or parent-teacher conferences? Those special school events are all opportunities for your library to promote your educational services.  

Some of your library’s resources, like homework help, are relevant all year long. Schedule those “evergreen” promotions using varying tactics throughout the year. For instance, you might post about homework help on Twitter in September. In October, move your promotions to Facebook. In November, send an email to patrons reminding them of the services available. In December, put a graphic on your library website homepage. Plan your promotions to appear on multiple platforms to make sure your audience sees them and acts on them. 

Pro tip: LibraryAware subscribers can save time by creating promotional graphics as you fill your editorial calendar. Search specific keywords like “homework” or “test prep”, then refine that search by format, like bookmarks, flyers, or widgets. Save templates in a folder to use later. 

Enlist the rest of the library staff to be your helpers throughout the school year. Don’t take it for granted that everyone who works for your library knows about all the resources you offer to support teachers and parents. Make sure staff understands what you are promoting when you are promoting it, and who your target audience is. Create an internal staff newsletter to lay out your plan details. Then ask your co-workers to help amplify your message when they interact with patrons.  

Pro tip: LibraryAware customers can use templates to quickly create a staff newsletter. Type “internal” into the homepage search bar.  

LibraryAware customers are invited to get more tips and access to an exclusive Supporting Students and Teachers Using LibraryAware Campaign Guide at a free microtraining session on Thursday, August 13 at 1 p.m. ET. LibraryAware customers can register for this training

Angela Hursh is a Senior Engagement Consultant for NoveList. She is currently reading Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore and listening to The Hilarious World of Depression by John Moe. 


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