First and foremost, why should we consider allocating space and time in our school libraries to student art and writing exhibits? There are several compelling reasons, including the desire to recognize student brilliance, develop a creative environment, and increase library foot traffic.
Hosting student art and writing showcases in our high school libraries offers a platform for celebrating the abundant talents of our students, whether they excel as budding writers, accomplished artists, or both. These showcases foster a sense of creative community where students take pride in sharing their work, encouraging skill development, and inspiring others to explore their creative potential. Furthermore, these events act as magnets, drawing students into the school library to admire their peers’ creations, subsequently boosting library foot traffic and overall engagement with the library’s resources and services.
To get started the first thing that you need to do is reach out to the art and English teachers in your school. Collaborating with them is the biggest first step. They can help identify students with exceptional work and may even incorporate the showcase into their curriculum. After you have their support and collaboration, choose a theme next. Themes can add depth and cohesion to your showcases. Consider themes like “Exploring Identity,” “Natural Beauty,” or “The Power of Words.” Themes can provide inspiration and guide student submissions. Work with the teachers next to create submission guidelines. Establish clear guidelines for submissions, including deadlines, formats, and any requirements for accompanying explanations or artist statements.
Once the logistics of the showcase are complete, start promoting! Use various channels to promote the showcase – posters in the school library, announcements, and social media platforms. Encourage students to submit and invite their friends and families to attend. Once the time comes to set up the showcase, dedicate a special section of your school library to display art and writing. Make sure it’s well-lit and visually appealing, with proper labeling for each piece. Reach out to different student groups to see if they could help with the setup of service hours.
Have an opening reception to kick off the showcase. This can include refreshments and even live readings or performances by student writers or artists. Encourage library-goers to interact with the pieces. You can provide comment cards or a voting system for “People’s Choice” awards. Don’t forget to celebrate young artists and writers by recognizing their efforts and talents. Awards or certificates are a great way to do this.
The impact of a Student Art and Writing Showcase extends far beyond the event itself, yielding a range of enduring benefits. Firstly, it encourages self-expression among students, nurturing their self-confidence and capacity for creative articulation. Secondly, it establishes a vibrant culture of creativity within your school, positioning the library as a pivotal hub for students’ imaginative pursuits. Moreover, it enhances library engagement as attendees are more inclined to explore the school library’s diverse offerings, spanning from books to digital resources. Lastly, inviting parents, teachers, and community members to participate in the showcase forges stronger connections between the school library and the broader community, fostering a sense of unity and support.
Author: Jessica Fitzpatrick
Jessica Fitzpatrick is a high school librarian in Houston and is in her tenth year of education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Houston and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas. She is a 2022 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, 2022 TLA MVP, an AASL Inspire Special Event Grant recipient, 2022 YALSA’s MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens, the 2022 TLA Branding Award Winner for Reading Program, the 2020 TLA Branding Award Winner for Community Engagement, YALS article contributor, and on the TAYSHAS Reading Committee. She enjoys running, reading, and spending time with her two daughters and husband. You can follow her on Instagram at @librarian_fitz and on Twitter at @librarianfitz .