The 3 Things You Absolutely Must Know About, Before Branding Your School Library
So here are the steps: Culture, Visibility, and Advocacy
The culture of your library is the feeling people get when they encounter anything connected to the library program. What is the feeling people get when they walk into your space? Is it welcoming? Are students engaged? Do patrons visit independent of their class requirements? Does the collection represent a wide range of cultures and perspectives?
These are all questions you want to ask yourself about your program and space. It can be challenging to be a new librarian or in a new school where there may be a pre-established culture, especially if you want to change it. The first step would be to actually identify what the culture of your space is and then what you want to keep and what you would want to change. By establishing clear goals for the library’s culture, you will have direction and some actionable things you can do to get started.
If you take pictures of a library program, but don’t share the pictures, did it even happen? Okay, well your participants know it did, but does anyone else? See part of being visible means taking the time to share what you are doing in your space. This can go a long way in educating people about what the library actually does.
Think of it this way. You could advertise for an event in the library and share all about it with posters, social media posts, emails, calls home, etc. But, if you only get a handful of kids or parents to attend, and then you don’t show the awesomeness that was your event to those who didn’t go...what is the motivation for them to want to catch the next great thing you organize? Now, that may not work for everyone, but it shows the impact of what you are doing and build a following among your patrons.
People need to see what you are doing in the library. They are not going to seek out what you do, on their own. You have to tactfully place it in front of them, so when people mention the library, a specific image comes to mind, or an event or experience (this is where culture comes into play). That is also what a consistent brand presence can do as well.
Part of building your brand includes thinking about advocacy. Now I am talking about small-scale, in-house advocacy. I go into more detail about it in this blog post here. But basically, when you are branding your space you are looking at the existing stereotypes about libraries that students and teachers bring with them to your school and then work to revise their understanding about the role of the library and the services it provides, which ties advocacy back to culture and visibility. You need a strong culture and a visible presence to aid in the advocacy process.
Having a strong understanding of how culture, visibility, and advocacy work together is the first step in understanding the value of branding your library.
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.