Bits, Bytes, & Books: The Staff Edition of the Library Newsletter

I think many of us struggle with trying to work with every staff member in our building. It definitely feels like an impossible task for me with over 100 staff members. But, I try to let them (at minimum) know what is happening in the library – so I turned to creating monthly newsletters. 

I have written monthly newsletters for all my library positions and schools (K-12) to let the staff know what is happening in the library that coming month. These newsletters have always received great feedback from the staff, with many of them coming back more than once to look at that month’s newsletter. 

What to Include in a Newsletter

I always send out the newsletter on the first weekday of the month so that everyone knows what is coming for the rest of the month. The staff newsletter always includes:

  • an overview of what is in the newsletter
  • a fun and/or factual video to brighten people’s days/moods 
  • a new tech tool and how to use it (letting staff know that I can help with integrating the tool into their lessons/classroom)
  • important dates (essentially anything that affects the library – if I will be out at a conference/meeting, if I know my teaching schedule already, testing dates, etc.) 
  • fun dates/celebrations –  each day of the month has some type of celebration and I list those (for example, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day will be on August 4 0f 2023)
  • a link to the monthly choice boards I create (see my post about those here)
  • a link to the library schedule for the week (marked as subject to change)
  • a link to the library website
  • a link to our Instagram and Tiktok accounts
  • a link to the library sign-in sheet 

and anything else relevant to that month. 

How to Easily Make a Newsletter

I use the online newsletter program, Smore, to create professional-looking newsletters to send to my staff. With Smore, you can embed images, text, videos, links, photos, etc., and share the newsletter via email or other social media platforms. Once you’ve sent a newsletter you can get statistics on how many times a newsletter has been opened, how long someone has been viewing it, and more! 

When I first started using Smore during my first librarian gig, Smore’s free account was only 3 newsletters in total.  So, I just edited the newsletters each month so I could keep using the free account (tricky I know, but hey – we teachers do not make a lot of money). 

A few years ago, I found the idea of having monthly statistics for each newsletter I created appealed more to me than having a free account. Although, you could just keep a running total of each newsletter you publish using the free account. But, honestly, I found that just one more thing I had to do when the $79 dollar-a-year version kept all the data I need. You could also have an account that you share with someone else (but I didn’t tell you that). 

(I promise Smore is not paying me to do this – lol.)

The Importance of Stats

I’ve noticed a trend in when I get my highest numbers – always in August and also mid-year. The August newsletter has all of the aforementioned information but also reminds everyone (or teaches them if they’re new to South) of the library procedures.

The newsletter with the most views is one I created a couple of years back about Teentober in October. That one got 464 views, but I also sent it out to staff, students, and parents to get the word out about the activities we would be doing in the library that month. 

The newsletter that I sent out to just staff with the most views was my August 2021 newsletter which received 217 views. At the beginning of August 2020, I sent out a newsletter full of resources called Remote Learning for All and which received 259 views.

So woohoo Brandi, you may be saying – who cares about the stats you’re getting? Well, obviously, I care. But it also shows me a pattern in the various staffs that I have worked with as a librarian for the last 10+ years – they want the information. They look for the information. And these stats tell me they look for the information more than once since there are double (or even triple!) the views as there are staff. Having all these stats and knowing that people come back to these newsletters, again and again, tells me that the information that I send out is a valuable resource – one that my staff wants to access multiple times. 

But it’s just not amazing knowledge for me to have. It’s amazing knowledge for the administration to have. As librarians, I think we never can do enough to advocate for ourselves (myself included). I know these statistics can back up the work that I am doing. I’m showing the building (and district) administration that our staff has bought into what I’m doing. 

By having these stats, I can show that staff has the buy-in to the library programming that I do each month, the tools I show them for their classrooms, what I can teach, and more because they are constantly coming back to the information in the newsletter for that reminder or schedule check or to see what I am already teaching that may give them an idea of how we can work together, etc. Several emails and conversations I’ve had with my staff start off because of a reference from the newsletter. So I know, at some level, it’s working. 

I send these stats with an infographic to the administration each month to show what I’ve been teaching, how many checkouts we have, the number of students in the library, etc. At one time, I thought about creating a newsletter for the administration but let’s be honest, they don’t have time to sit down and read something like that. This is why I do the infographics (side note: I use Canva for those). 

As I’m signing off to start my December newsletter, I want to remind you that anything can be used as advocacy, even a simple newsletter.