Why a Library Newsletter?
Amongst many other things, we, as library staff, spend a long time designing posters for reading initiatives, competitions, quizzes and much more. I would spend valuable time and budget on printing them out and posting them around the school, on the website and on social media in an attempt to reach my target market.
During school refurbishments, the Library was moved from its central location to a tucked away corner. In addition, in keeping with school branding, notice boards were no longer allowed, providing a significant challenge when promoting Library activities, books and other offerings. Staff and student footfall plummeted due to the new location, and, as always, the Library budget continued to be slashed, providing a tricky mixture of factors for me to increase student engagement.
With all this in mind, I needed to find other ways to entice students and staff to the new library space and promote a good reading ethos. This was the birth of the Library Newsletter! Previously, I had produced an A5 double sided, double page spread – thanks to a larger budget and this had proven effective thanks to the large footfall: students and staff would pick up a paper copy, a menu or catalogue of sorts, look through it and use the information to choose books and take part in the activities. The Library even had a large screen that I could broadcast all information on.
In my new environment, I needed to design a Newsletter in a collegiate format that would be easy to read, and eye catching, with informative blocky columns that would organise the text and pictures all on one page. I wanted to promote new books, competitions, student achievements, library activities and useful information – a fair amount of information for one page. Publishing a monthly newsletter would ensure students were not bombarded with information continually and that I could manage workload.
By producing this one page, I didn’t need to print so much, so I was saving on budget (and helping the environment!), and ensuring that information overload didn’t occur. What I couldn’t fit on my newsletter, I would promote on Twitter and Instagram, referring to social media pages on the Newsletter for people to follow.
In the current Covid-19 climate, students and staff are receiving so much online information, and I have been glad of my short document that has been added easily to the weekly student, parent and staff bulletin. It has enabled me to share information on online reading resources and provide competitions for children and families at home.
I have been able to gauge how successful the newsletter was by increases in followers to the Library Twitter and Instagram pages and in participation numbers to my promoted activities.
How I put the Newsletter together:
I like to set up my Newsletter using Publisher. It is easy to use and I like the drag-and-drop image importing and swapping function. Information can be stored in the sides of the page and can be added it in at any point. You have everything you need all on one screen.
Once you have the general template, you can then move the information around to suit your requirements each month. I split the Newsletter up as follows:
Top: Panoramic view of the Library, with school logo, date and issue.
(You could take a picture of one feature in your library or use your school logo. Trying to make it as personal and relatable to your school and students works better).
Middle: I have split my page up into columns. Each column represents Competitions, Clubs, Information and Congratulations. Each subject has its own colour to make it easy for the viewer to follow and digest the information.
Each month you can move the featured columns round to make the Newsletter look fresh and make it stand out from the previous one.
Bottom: I like to promote new books that have recently come into the library, popular reads recently borrowed by the students, books related to subject topics, and trending reads or listens. You can change this each month to suit your requirements.
At the very bottom of the page, you can note your Twitter and Instagram library pages and, every time you publish the newsletter, tag in the featured authors and their books. The authors will retweet and it encourages students to read more about them and their books.
Once you are happy with it, you can save it as J-Peg to make it easy to share via email, social media and the school VLE.
Written by Helen Burley
Witchford Village College