Woman looking for books to promote your catalogue in a school library management system

How to promote your school library catalogue

Many librarians underplay the crucial role they have in promoting the school library catalogues they create. An up-to-date and engaging catalogue and library collection is enormously advantageous to teachers and students. It will enrich the teaching and learning experience by offering the wide range of media and resources that are required to succeed. Once the library catalogue has been built, it’s important that it’s promoted to the right people, in the right way.

This article provides actionable suggestions to promote your library catalogue to the wider school community.

 

A broad range of resources will appeal to a wide audience

Let’s start this with my favourite inspirational quote:

“If you build it, they will come” – Kevin Costner, Field of Dreams, 1989.

By having a wide range of resources in your catalogue, you will ensure that the library becomes the first point of call for all information and research needs. This means that your collection is consciously built for the many different types of learners within your school environment. So, it’s important to have a good, intuitive understanding of the teacher’s curriculums, and a ‘finger on the pulse’ of pop culture and modern technology.

For example, if the social studies teacher is covering elections, your library collection could offer a variety of different media types on the topic to appeal to your learners.

This could include:

  • Series of articles demonstrating prominent people’s political leanings
  • Funny political memes in your Web App or on the walls
  • PDF infographics contrasting differences between policies
  • Biographies of current celebs that are openly political
  • Video links to key political moments
  • Quizzes to discover personal political leanings

By adding book trailers, author interviews, or related educational games to your catalogue records, you will encourage students to interact with the content in different ways.

This kind of wide-ranging catalogue of resources, catering for the needs of the diverse learners of today is at the very heart of a strong school library. Teachers will love being able to provide a customisable learning experience catering to their individual student’s needs, utilising the range of resources you have on offer.

There is a lot of wisdom in the quote, “If you build it, they will come”.

Promotion and visibility are key – try these suggestions

So, you’ve got a great school library collection, and you still need more engagement. This is your opportunity to use your marketing and promotional skills within the school. Schools have many ways in which you can promote your library.

Most schools have:

  • A newsletter
  • Staff notices
  • Weekly assemblies
  • An intranet
  • A website
  • Social media pages
Each channel will have a different response and engagement rate, so you need to understand what your goal is. For example, if all the year groups within the school are studying elections in some form, then it’s a great opportunity to ask for your library election display to be publicised / promoted in the school newsletter.

Pro tip: Before going gung-ho, making noise in all of the various publications available, try your best to foster continued advocacy with staff members. This means engage in casual lunchroom conversations or send out a quick email to the relevant departments as your displays go live. The teachers will then do the work for you and tell their students to visit the library to get the relevant resources when they’re ready.

Use technology to your advantage

Whilst promotion of your competitions, reading programs and literacy initiatives could be done through your school newsletter, website or even “live” at assembly, nothing beats having an attractive, interactive interface in your school library software to engage your school community.

Accessit Library is a fantastic piece of school library software that brings the school together to create a connected learning community. It has a bright, engaging interface called the ‘Web App’ that is managed by the library staff from anywhere with an internet connection.

Of course, the Accessit Web App is totally customisable. You can theme your dashboard, promote competitions, post news items, or even show off your latest resources with book carousels. If you have a learning management system at your school, you can tie it back to the library with live links to book lists, allowing teachers to create reading lists of books, eBooks, websites, electronic and video content.

With access to the catalogue anywhere, anytime, on any device, your students will see in real time the availability of items, and even participate themselves by reserving, ‘liking’ and reviewing resources. They can even create “to-read” lists and recommend books to their friends whenever they like.

Parents can also participate in their child’s learning. They can choose reading material with their children from the comfort of home and view their children’s borrower history to get a feel for their individual taste.

Accessit caters for the individual, allowing users to select their own favourite authors,subject areas,series and genresalerting them when new resources come in matching their interests. You can even catalogue and track your National Library loans, sending links of lists to the teachers, allowing them to see the availability in the library and to reserve them for their classes.

Technology really is your friend when it comes to promoting your catalogue.

Accessit has tools for the itinerant school librarian

With the right library management system, it’s no longer a challenge to promote your school library catalogue when you’re not at school all the time. With Accessit Library, you can be visible, no matter where you are. Having the ability to circulate from the Accessit Web App means that, armed with a device that’s connected to the internet, you can become a travelling librarian!

Try these ideas:

1. Visit classrooms and do book talks, and take the books with you, allowing students to issue them straight away. Accessit has a ‘self-issue kiosk’ app, enabling school librarians to implement click and collect and book delivery services to classrooms.

2. Pop into the staffroom and collect staff picks, or specific resource recommendations that the teaching staff may like their classes to use. Armed with the right topics and recommended books you can populate your Web App remotely, ensuring your resources are getting the exposure they need.

There are so many possibilities.

Third party integrations are easy to promote

“Content is King” – Bill Gates, 1996

Since the beginning of the internet, quality content has always been what defines a really good website. This same principle applies to school libraries. A thoughtfully curated library catalogue that makes the most of mixed media will make promotion easy, so it’s important to have the right school library software to facilitate 3rd party content providers.

Accessit’s Web App seamlessly integrates with third party providers. Once they’re up and running they are visible and can be sorted in the management app. A few of these online digital content providers and databases include EPIC, Wheelers, Accelerated Reader, ClickView, EBSCO, Gale, ProQuest, OverDrive and many more, with new content integrations being added all the time.

Accessit’s One Search makes searching easy for students. With One Search, students can simply click on the databases or websites they want to search through and it will take them to the site (log them in, if it’s subscription or EPIC content) and carry out their search, all in a single click. They can still use the limiters, and change their search if they need to, within their chosen databases.

With your Wheeler’s eBooks available directly from the Web App (without requiring a secondary login) and your other electronic resources sitting side-by-side with your physical books, Accessit really is a one-stop shop!

Content will always remain king, you just need to give the students the means to find it. If they can find it, they will promote it for you. Thanks Bill.

Let your data lead catalogue promotion decisions

A thoughtful library collection that has been built with strategic insight, collaboration and experience will be easy to promote. Sometimes, within your library collection there will be many old favourites that you think should be promoted, that really shouldn’t be. Data is going to help you here. Good reporting with data insights is going to help you understand what books in your catalogue you need to promote.

Accessit Library has extensive reporting options that are useful for making cataloguing decisions. You can track which authors or Web App searches are most popular, and which searches are not yielding results. You can even run reports on non-active borrowers allowing you to consider which resources may re-engage the student.

These reports can guide you when considering collection development, to alert you when other search terms need to be appended to resources, or even which topics/authors are popular so you can create vibrant displays.

Final words on how to promote your catalogue

In the 20’s, it’s hard to imagine a world without a good library management system to facilitate reading in schools. As literacy is directly correlated with success later in life, it’s up to you, the school librarian to promote your catalogue to the school and encourage a healthy reading culture. Start with a broad range of resources and then raise awareness via the school’s channels. Embrace technology and adopt a library management system that works for you. Build an exciting mixed media collection and use reports and data to drive promotional decisions. We hope the suggestions in this article will help you promote your school library catalogue to the wider school community.

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