In 2019, I wrote a blog post explaining how the school librarians in my district advocate for our school library through a monthly newsletter for administrators. While we continue that practice, some of my secondary colleagues and I have also been focusing on regular newsletter communication with parents. All of us rely on our administrators to send our newsletters out with their regular parent communications because we believe parents are more likely to read an email from a principal. The fact that this approach ensures our administrators are aware of the school library activities we are highlighting in our communication to parents is an added bonus.
Here are three of the parent newsletter formats we use in my district:
My co-librarian and I create a quarterly newsletter that our principal includes in her email to parents. It is comprised of a short greeting and four sections. Because we started it last year during the pandemic, we focused on resources, especially remote ones, that are offered by our school library and our local public library. This year’s focus is on lessons, events, and promotions in our library.
The template for our newsletter is simple and plain, making it easy to update every quarter. We created it using a Google slide because that format allows us to easily insert and resize text boxes, pictures, and any other elements we want to use. When we save it as a PDF document for distribution, the links remain active.
Three Things You Should Know.
Two of the other high school libraries in my district use a more colorful template that highlights three events, lessons, programs, or fun facts from the library. Jane Lingafelter, a librarian Lafayette High School, says that she and her co-librarian decided to modify a Canva template after searching for examples of newsletters that conveyed a lot of information in visually-appealing way. In addition to asking their principal to include the “3 Things” with her monthly communication to parents, the Lafayette school librarians share the document with students through their Canvas inboxes.
“The library has so many resources available to students and a lot of great things happen in the library–our monthly 3 Things helps us connect with our students and parents to keep them informed,” Lingafelter says.
Section in the Principal’s Weekly Newsletter.
Melanie Barrett, the librarian at Wildwood Middle School, submits school library news and updates to her principal, Dr. Cassandra Walker Suggs, who includes them in her weekly newsletter to parents. Barrett says she thought about creating and disseminating her own newsletter, but she often heard parents at her previous school comment that they received too many communications.
“Parents often asked if we could find a way to consolidate all of the messages in one place, so it seemed logical to ask [Dr. Suggs] if her newsletter could include a section about what’s going on in the library,” Barrett said.
Barrett says when she sees parents at school events, they sometimes comment on a library activity they read about in the newsletter. “It’s nice to know parents are aware of what’s happening in the library,” she says.
Make A Plan
All three of these newsletters are about consistent communication. It doesn’t really matter which format you choose or how often you send out the newsletter. What matters is making a plan about how often you will communicate with parents and sticking to it. Regular communication with parents is a great way to highlight the ways your school library benefits learners.
Author: Margaret Sullivan
Margaret Sullivan is a librarian at Rockwood Summit High School and also serves as the Lead Librarian for the Rockwood School District. A past president of the Missouri Association of School Librarians, Margaret’s professional interests include advocacy, teacher collaboration, professional development, equity, and YA literature. You can connect with her on Twitter @mm_sullivan.