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Question: The principal at my teens’ high school is not receptive to posting teen events in the Principal’s Newsletter. The high school is regional, but I make it clear that my events are open to everyone. I’m not sure how to market the library to her or get her onboard. The school library is not even staffed and I don’t think she sees the opportunities for teens at the library. What do I do? Are there other ways to get the word out?
Jenni (South San Francisco Public Library) says:
You could highlight the benefits of using the library, even for teens, and the fact that volunteering as a teen looks really good on college applications. You could also try contacting the teachers directly and seeing if they’d be willing to mention your programs in class. I used to teach junior/senior high school, and I would often give my students extra credit or a pass on homework if they attended an educational program like a library event or a school play.
Rebecca (Palos Heights Public Library) says:
What are some ways you can help the high school? Could you display any of the students’ art projects in your building? (Contact the art teachers.) What about a wall or bulletin board to share some of their writing assignments? (Contact the English teachers.) Do you need volunteers to clean shelves or books, or cut out craft projects, help set up or clean up a messy art event? (Contact the staff that supervises the National Honor Society or the school counselors.) If the high school hosts an open-house or resource fair that is open to the public, reserve a table to share your library’s resources. Perhaps if you demonstrate some ways you can help the high school and its students, the principal might reciprocate.
My library hosts a Finals Frenzy in May and Cocoa & Cram in December. We schedule it for the nights of school finals and email some of the teachers. All it takes is for 1 or 2 to share the information with their classes and students will spread the word. I provide simple snacks such as pretzels, granola bars, and a fruit and make it available at a specific time to make it easy enough to staff. Try to connect with the teachers and students in as many unique ways as possible and you’re bound to win over the principal!
Wendy (Culman High School) says:
I talk about the difficulty in getting principals on board in my School and Public Library Cooperation Committee post for the YALSA board this month:
I think this disconnect comes from the differences in organizational types. Public librarians are usually more hierarchical than schools, and there is an amazing flood of information that comes through a principal’s office. And school librarians usually have a lot more latitude in providing information and promoting events than in a public library setting, which is why I always encourage youth services librarians who feel stifled by administration to consider that switch. You say there isn’t a librarian at the school. I would try going through either a paraprofessional, if there is one — they will be grateful for the support! or English teachers, especially if you know one that is a big library booster. Again, don’t worry about going through the English department chair — any English teacher will tell the relevant students and other teachers. Don’t get locked into a sense of going through gatekeepers when dealing with schools.
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