When I began my School Librarian position, I didn’t have any bulletin boards and I didn’t care—I didn’t see the point in “cutesy” bulletin boards. Rather, I focused on decor for the rather bare 2-year-old library, installing purposeful posters and informational signage. One day I realized that folks had to decide to enter the library to see what’s there, and if I had bulletin boards outside the school library, I could entice students and teachers to make full use of everything the library had to offer.
Now, Bulletin Boards are my primary way to promote the School Library to students, faculty, administration, and visitors! It doesn’t cost much because I don’t use prepackaged theme pieces; instead I create my own signage with slide presentation software that allows for a variety of text and graphics on 11″ x 8.5″ signs. I print them in color and laminate so they can be reused from year to year.
For any bulletin board, what we display and how often we update depends on how many boards we have and where they are located. By designating certain bulletin boards for certain purposes, and carefully planning for long-term display, we can minimize the time needed to create and maintain them, yet still have them convey valuable and relevant information.
IN-LIBRARY BULLETIN BOARD
The first bulletin board I installed was a 3′x4′ one inside the library, on a wall next to the circulation desk. I put up a calendar for planning class visits, but after switching to an online library calendar that could be viewed by anyone in the building, I turned the bulletin board into a place to display the “nuts & bolts” of my Library Program so our operation is completely transparent to visitors. This board is all business, but that’s its purpose, and the infrequent updates are quite easy to do. Signs and items on the bulletin board include:
- Library Program Mission Statement – This sign typically stays the same for 2-3 years, and reflects my current Strategic Plan.
- My Professional Information Literacy Theme – I create a new Info-Lit theme when I rewrite my Strategic Plan. It’s my personal goal for focusing Library Lessons to integrate with classroom subject content and new technology.
- Monthly Library Schedule – I simply print this out from online calendar the first day of each month. Anyone can see who’s scheduled for library use, and I can pencil in notes when planning with teachers.
- Library Activity Report – This is an infographic I create at the end of each 9-week grading period. I submit one copy to the principal and mount one on the bulletin board.
- Public Library News & Events – Our school area includes 2 different city libraries and their Youth Librarians provide me with info and flyers, especially for the start of the school year and before each school break.
GRADE LEVEL BULLETIN BOARDS FOR SUBJECT CONTENT
Our school library is in the center of the building, surrounded by four hallways, so I mounted a 4′x4′ bulletin board in each of the three hallways that border our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade wings to promote reading and using the library.
I designed a sign system to set them up at the start of the school year and not have to redo them, yet I can change individual signs to coordinate with subject area classroom activities during the school year. Each bulletin board includes a series of customized signs:
- A grade-level Information Literacy Theme sign that reflects my lesson focus for that grade at the top left corner.
- A grade-level English/Language Arts Unit Theme sign in the center. This sign changes for each 9-week grading period.
- A grade-level Social Studies Theme sign in the bottom right corner to promote their Special collections: “Read Around the World” for 6g, “Read Your Way through Texas History” for 7g, and “Read America” for 8g. I keep bookmark pockets filled with reading log bookmarks for this reading promotion program.
- I add smaller signs for other subject area classes that visit the library during the grading period, like infographics of online services for research projects. These change each grading period, too.
- Students can create a book review on a 3″x5″ index card and staple it on the board. It’s a great way to involve students and to update bulletin boards without a lot of extra work.
Teachers really appreciate that I coordinate these bulletin boards with their subject content, and students constantly see them as they move between their classes.
MONTHLY THEMATIC BULLETIN BOARD
The 4th bulletin board is located in the hallway near student bathrooms and is visible to nearly everyone on their way to the cafeteria. I share this 4′x4′ board with others so we can have a new theme for each month of the school year yet I don’t have to do it every month.
September is decorated by our Spanish teachers and student Spanish Club for Hispanic Heritage Month, February is decorated by our Black History Month Committee (which includes students), and May‘s Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is decorated by our ELL teacher and her students (we have a large Asian population in our school). All these groups use wonderful accessories to dress up and draw attention to the board and share classroom activities. I support that by displaying books inside the library that coordinate with each heritage, such as related biographies and authors.
November is Native American Heritage Month, and I use the board for an Indigenous Peoples Around the World display to bring awareness of this issue and support our IB program. I create the display by continent and post signs with historical insights or quotations, along with pictures of book covers of our indigenous collection, including books by and about Native Americans.
The March board is handled by the Fine Arts Department to feature Music in Schools Month and Youth in Art month. The April board is handled by the Math and Science teachers for Math Awareness Month and Earth Month, which includes highlights from our student Recycling Club. October is National Bullying Prevention Month and National Red Ribbon Week. Our school counselors—and student office aides—take on the bulletin board since they sponsor Red Ribbon Week and bullying also falls under their purview.
December is a short month with our winter break, so I post coming activities at our public libraries to encourage students to visit the library and continue reading during the break.
January is for our district Internet Safety Month, during which all librarians present lessons to our schools. National Internet Safety Month is actually in June, but since we aren’t in school, our district has chosen January for these important lessons with the theme Be Safe in Cyberspace and Become a Digital Citizen. In addition to the board, student-created posters from my Library Lessons are displayed around the hallways.
The monthly thematic bulletin board is popular with teachers, especially those who otherwise don’t have a public bulletin board on which to display their subject content classroom activities. Because students contribute to these displays, they are more meaningful to all students.
Join my mailing list if you want more information about these bulletin boards! You can download my Purposeful Bulletin Boards ebook, which includes 15 Info-Lit and ELA signs.
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