Tamiko Brown of Ed White E-STEM Magnet School in El Lago, TX was named School Librarian of the Year by School Library Journal and Scholastic in the 2017 School Librarian of the Year Awards. Below, she shares reasons why school librarians should use social media.
School libraries are literacy and learning powerhouses that positively impact the lives of young patrons. But this cannot effectively occur unless librarians are able to communicate all we can do to support kids’ learning.
Bulletin boards and marquees are great, but these days it’s not enough to capture anyone’s attention. Social media can positively change the perception of the library and promote all that we do in the library. This is true everywhere, but especially in a school like mine, which has a STEM focus!
Below are five strategies for using social media to advertise and tell my library’s story.
1. Promote Programs
At the School Library Journal summit earlier this fall, Dr. Bill Chapman (Superintendent, Jarrell ISD) said, librarians need to “market the library and show teachers and administrators your skills.” This was inspiring to me because this approach helps me demonstrate how libraries are a part of education. We can start by sharing the library’s story online. When new books arrive, an author visits students, book clubs meet, a new book display is set up, makerspace is in session, and for all library programs, I take pictures to post on social media platforms.
My professional accounts on Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In, and Instagram are in my name or my professional blog’s name, Makerspace Library. (I don’t recommend using your school’s name in the account because you might not stay at same location for your entire career, and you want keep ownership of these accounts if you change locations. At my last school I had a library blog in the school’s name, and I lost the blog when I left.) I have a private account on Facebook, so if I need to post something on Facebook for my school, I use the Ed White E-STEM PTA page. I also cross-post Twitter information on our Ed White E-STEM Twitter page to ensure the entire school community sees library news and information.
By sharing library programs on social media it empowers, advertises, and makes them a part of the library’s story. To save time, think about cross-posting or using a social media management tool such as StatusBrew or Hootsuite. This is a great way to see all of your accounts on one page, schedule posts, and run analytics on your accounts. Some social media management tools offer free accounts. If you Google “social media management tools” you can discover a list of social media management options.
2. Encourage Student Voice and Innovation
Sharing student projects and innovations on social media will empower students’ voices. Knowing their work is published online via social media is a confidence-builder for students. Taking pictures during makerspace sessions is an ideal time to snap a shot of student innovation or student voice in action. This can be done by simply taking a picture of a student’s work without the student’s name listed, which protects their privacy.
Empower student voice and innovation on Instagram by snapping a picture of their latest makerspace project, book review, book club meeting, or #bookface interpretation. I recently created a professional Instagram page. This platform will allow me to empower student voice, share innovations, and network.
Social media is a great way to connect with other librarians and educators around the world. Join an education chat on Twitter by using the group’s hashtag, and connect with other librarians and educators at a scheduled time. Search “education chat” on Google to see a list of scheduled chats around the world. Click (ctrl) (f) and type in a location or topic to narrow the search. This list is continually updated, so new chats can be added. Join the Future Ready Librarians page on Facebook to receive endless opportunities to share, learn, and connect. LinkedIn makes it possible to build a network of professional connections, endorsements, and take free professional development classes. They even have a course on using social media as a beginner or from an intermediate level.
4. Provide Limitless Access
This year I promoted my Scholastic Book Fair online by tweeting the information and posting it on Facebook.
Scholastic has made it easy by offering a webpage for my book fair and pre-scripted messages for Facebook and Twitter. Social media is a great tool to publicize library hours, library club information, library resources, and more. Share library programs and promotions online, and it will give everyone limitless access to library information.
5. Build a Brand
When we say “brand” these days, what we mean is simply a “reputation.” Social media gives us a chance to be our own publicist, and set the tone of the library brand we create. Mark Moran co-founder of Sweet Search states librarians should be enthusiastic marketers of themselves, the library, and its programs and promotions. Instead of putting your lesson plans in a binder, try pinning some on Pinterest. This will brand your library as a place of curricular collaboration and student engagement.
Is your library an integral part of the school? Is it the place where innovation happens? What’s special about your library? You have the power to create your library brand online using social media. Social media offers librarians a platform to positively brand the library, empower patron voice, and share the library’s story. Remember to keep post positive and protect your patrons’ privacy before you upload.
All photos via Tamiko Brown. Author page photo by Felix Sanchez.