3 Ways to Increase Staff Engagement in School Libraries

Library stacks and a table with books on it

I work in two high school libraries, and both have around 150 staff members. My primary goal is to serve students well, but I also want to see staff using the library and its resources for themselves. Teachers bring their classes in for instruction or assignments, but I want them to check out books for personal reading. I want to help the secretary in the office next door learn how to place books on hold. I want to make sure my school’s custodians know how to download eBooks and audiobooks. Today I’m sharing three ways you can reach out to all members of your school’s staff so that they feel just as welcome in the library as the students do.

MAKE SURE STAFF KNOW THE BOOKS ARE FOR THEM TOO

This statement might seem too obvious to share, but it’s essential if you want to help staff use the library. I’ve worked in school libraries for ten years now, and I’ve lost count of how many staff members have asked if they’re allowed to borrow books. In addition to making sure they know they can check out, ask for their recommendations. Try displaying staff favorites. Ask your coworkers what they’re reading. Spread some literary love to your entire school community, not just the students. 

OPT FOR A PERSONAL MESSAGE RATHER THAN AN ALL-STAFF EMAIL

Sometimes an all-staff email makes the most sense, but in the past, I’ve also sent emails to individual staff members stating what the library had to offer them. I made sure the science teachers knew about the science databases we could help them access. I offered to create a page on the school library website for specialized literature classes and showed them examples of others I’d done in the past. I reminded teachers that they were welcome to use the library for their prep periods. See what specific needs there are in your school and help meet them.

REMEMBER TO CONSIDER ALL STAFF

When I think about who uses the school library, I think of students first and teachers second. That’s great, but it’s important to consider everyone in your building. My school district has a partnership with our local public library, and I like to send reminders about it before winter and summer break. I create lists of ebooks and audiobooks staff might want to download and include a video showing how they can access those titles. I make sure the staff knows that everyone has a library account already set up, whether they are teachers, paraeducators, counselors, or cooks. When communicating with people in your building about library resources, don’t forget to mention and include the entire team. 

If you work in a school, how do you reach out to staff? How do you reach out to teachers and other school staff if you work in a public library? Let us know in the comments. 

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