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5 Ways to Bring Teachers Into Your School Library

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Rosalind Franklin knows if she just takes one more X-ray picture—one more after thousands—she can unlock the building blocks of life. Never again will she have to listen to her colleagues complain about her, especially Maurice Wilkins who'd rather conspire about genetics with James Watson and Francis Crick than work alongside her. Then it finally happens—the double helix structure of DNA reveals itself to her with perfect clarity. But what unfolds next, Rosalind could have never predicted.

As a school librarian, getting students into the library can be a challenge, but getting teachers into the library is a completely different animal. Teachers and other support staff are over-worked, super stressed, and in many cases struggling to survive day by day. This is my experience in a high school setting, at least. So why get teachers and other staff into the library in the first place? In my opinion, students love seeing their teachers in a different setting and role, even if it’s only during a quick lunch time activity or event. Also, it builds relationships between the library and the many different departments that exist within a school. In my experience, these partnerships can last for years and develop into many exciting opportunities.

It’s also a lot of fun and gets adults reading time, which, in a school setting, is rare. I know this may not seem like a plausible idea but, as I have mentioned, teachers have negative time available to them during the day and even into the evening when they go home. Having time to read is something that they are going to be convinced is worth doing. I am going to introduce five ways to get teachers in the library and involved in your library programs.

Food

This works for students as well, of course. This is a simple and fun way to bring teachers and students together to talk about books. Several homemade brownies were made, new books were put on the library tables in different genres. During lunch and after school, if a teacher or student came in to borrow a book, they got a free brownie. I had student library assistants roaming around the library recommending books to staff that came in. It was a huge amount of fun and connected students to teachers in a fun way.

Open Mic

Inviting staff to participate in Open Mic events are really fun. We take part in poetry events that turn the library into a kind of poetry café. A few weeks before the event, staff are given short poems printed on library due date slips. Their job is to memorise their poems for the event. Students are encouraged to do the same. Turning it into a competition makes it a lot of fun and it’s always great to see staff come out to take part.

Shelfies

Not long ago I ran a shelfie contest for staff and students. Staff were asked to either come to the library to have their shelfie taken or send me one from home. Again, turning it into a competition made a big difference. We had a great time setting up the shelves for the staff, many wanted to pose with their favourite books and the students loved to see them on display!

Surprise Summer Reads

This is hugely popular and very simple. Near the end of the school year I ask teachers to tell me their favourite genre or style of book. I then find them a YA or Middle Grade book from the shelves, wrap it up and give it to them to read over the summer. I then ask that they write a short review of the book on a recipe or revision card so I can put them on display in September. The students love seeing what the teachers are reading and what they thought of them!

Library Card Drive

Another simple but fun one! Teachers and staff can of course borrow books from the library, but are often unaware of their ability to do so. I hold a library card drive in the library after school with yes, junk food. Come to the library, register for a card, borrow a book, and get something chocolate. It is straight up bribery but it’s an amazing way to bring new teachers to the library and put amazing books in their hands.

a white library card with three colorful leaves on the front
Berrely, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0å, via Wikimedia Commons

There you have it, five ways to bring teachers and staff into your school library. Over the years I’ve seen some staff ask about certain events, meaning they remember and have a positive experience in the library. Teachers being involved in the library will only mean more students being involved in the library, and that’s a win-win situation.