Why branding your school library matters
First, I am going to blame the internet because, with the internet, you can find out how to do just about anything, including making beautiful handouts for your students and spectacular signage for your library with some basic knowledge of PPT or a tool like Canva. You can also find hundreds of examples of branding resources and tools, but none specifically designed for librarians.
So as I dove headfirst into the world of graphic design, I stumbled upon tons of branding content. It was when others in my district started asking about what I was doing and how I was creating my library content, that I thought what I had learned may be useful to other librarians. I decided to apply my several years of “poking around on the internet” into something that might actually be useful to school librarians.
“...branding is so much more than a logo--it is the intentional alignment of everything you do to support a larger goal” (Barker, 2017).
In fact, in 2008, ALA even published a book about library branding called Creating Your Library Brand: Communicating Your Relevance and Value to Your Patrons by Elisabeth Doucett. You can find used copies on Amazon, though many of you may have weeded it from your library if you ever owned a copy, as it is a bit dated at this point. You can find additional articles at the end of this post about library branding if you would like to do some further reading about the topic.
Back in 2012, our library budget took some serious cuts, which we have yet to recover from, but that is beside the point. I started to do some inhouse display signage to cut back on the cost of purchasing items online from places like DEMCO. And because I wanted a cohesive look, I developed a color palette based on our school colors which I applied to the things I was creating. I was not aiming for cute or a theme per se, but I did want there to be a consistent aesthetic to our space which was warm, welcoming, and made you want to sit and read awhile. Then I made a logo that I added to the signage I used around the building and on our website.
I did not think of this as anything special, but fast forward to today, and I have now applied that same template to our social media sites and digital content to extend the reach of our library.
Here is how branding your school library makes a difference:
First having a cohesive look for graphics makes content related to the library recognizable. Just like the swoosh or golden arches, you know exactly what brands they are and what they are offering to potential patrons. The same goes for the library. I want students to know who is publishing the read-alike lists, or the top ten lists that are posted in teachers’ classrooms and around the building.
Second, branding means I can claim ownership of the content being created for the library. It increases our visibility and value to students, parents, and the community because they can see what the library can do for them beyond just being the place to check out books.
Branding is also an advocacy tool, remember when I mentioned the budget cuts, well I was quite vocal about the need for libraries to maintain their budget funding so that we can provide the necessary services to our students. The use of a consistent logo, message, and presence reinforced the value of our library programs when members of the board came to see our library and the work we were doing for students when we were not teaching classes. The folks holding the purse strings don’t always know how many books we process and circulate, or the number of classes we teach in a week or month. With branding elements, it was easy to quickly and easily post to social media, on bulletin boards, and in newsletters the exact impact we had on students with real data.
To say I love this stuff is an understatement. I have a younger sister who is a social media marketer for small businesses, and I am continually picking her brain for the newest and most up-to-date information about branding to stay relevant with my patrons. So here are a few resources you may enjoy if you get as geeky about this topic as I do!
P.S. Additionally, you can find my school librarian templates for Canva and branding kit using these links. These are especially useful if you are not sure where to start when it comes to graphic design or with what to post on social media.
You can also get your FREE copy of the First Five Steps to Branding Your School Library. It is a great resource and workbook to get you started on your branding journey!
Short on time? Pin one of these images to read later.
Barker, Kelsey. “Creating a Unique Brand for Your School Library: Values, Vision, Voice, and Visuals: Increasing Your Library’s Visibility as a Form of Advocacy.” Young Adult Library Services, vol. 15, no. 3, 22 Mar. 2017, p. 31, www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-491407595/creating-a-unique-brand-for-your-school-library-values. Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.
Librarians: Build Your Brand.
Library Branding, Moving Beyond the Physical Space
Being Visible & Vocal – Marketing the School Library
Advocacy and the 21st Century School Librarian: Challenges and Best Practices
Hi! I'm Sarah, a school librarian and former middle school English teacher. I empower school librarians to use branding and marketing skills in order to build culture, get visible and advocate for their library.