Bulletin Boards & the School Library

Bulletin Boards & the School Library - Bulletin boards can be more than decorative: they can be our school library's primary means of advocacy and PR. Read how this School Librarian makes them purposeful without spending a lot of time or money! #NoSweatLibraryWhen 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.


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.
  • Looking Back @ Bulletin Boards & the School Library - Bulletin boards can be a school library's primary means of advocacy and PR, yet we can make them purposeful without spending a lot of time or money! Read how... #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #bulletinboardsLibrary 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.


Create a Unique Library Bulletin Board For Each Grade Level - Teachers appreciate school library bulletin boards coordinated with their current subject content, and students, as they move between classes, will constantly be reminded of library resources to help them with their assignments. #NoSweatLibraryOur 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.


Share a Library Bulletin Board with Monthly Themes - Here are 8 themes for a school library bulletin board that I share with other staff members so I only have to do 2 different months of decorating! Learn how you can do the same. #NoSweatLibraryThe 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.

Heritage displays

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.

Topical displays

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.

Internet Safety Month: Be Safe in Cyberspace & Become a Responsible Digital Citizen - The 3 different lessons I have for 6g, 7g, and 8g students.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.


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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.

You can also choose other free downloads from my e-List Library resources.

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The School Library Environment – Guest Post by Susan Harris

The School Library Environment - Guest Post by Susan Harris - Welcome all students to visit the school library for pleasure reading, research, and study. Here's how to create a clean, inviting environment that is accessible to everyone and available when needed, so students want to come in. #NoSweatLibraryA recent edWeb contribution from Susan Harris, Librarian at Ridgeway HS in Memphis TN, was full of helpful information about the library setting, so I asked if I could publish it on my blog. Graciously she agreed. 

I am going to provide a few tips that I hope will be helpful to you. I always try to allow as much natural light in as possible, I always try to have “designated” spaces in my library, and I always try to make everything handicap accessible by leaving enough space between bookcases and tables and by not placing books on top or bottom shelves when possible.

I try to leave open shelving by my entrance so that I can create monthly book displays, and I have a bulletin board that I change monthly and use to promote literacy.

Ridgeway HS Library Halloween Display

Halloween Display click to enlarge

RHS Thanksgiving Bbd

Thanksgiving Bulletin Board

RHS Library Reading Corner

Reading Corner

When I was an elementary school librarian, I actually had a gazebo that children could sit in and read while other children checked out books. At my current library, I have a designated area for computers (like a lab setting), a “classroom” or meeting area where I have all of my tables and a mounted SmartBoard and projector, a “reading corner” and open space. There are so many furniture choices now for children and teen reading spaces if you can afford it. There is also portable furniture (tables) now so you can make your space more accessible.

I suggest that you always attempt to have sight lines when you arrange your library because you want to be able to see what all of your students are doing from where you spend most of your time. I fortunately have a monitoring program on all of my library computers so I am able to monitor the students’ computer use while I am at the circulation desk. Of course, the placement of your power outlets, wireless access points and/or Ethernet ports will determine where your technology goes.
Ridgeway HS School Library

When I was an elementary librarian I always had a colorful carpet for the students to sit on while I read aloud to them and I placed plush book characters on the shelves in the children’s area. For my high school students, I place greenery on top of the shelves and use Ficus trees and paintings for decor.

I know that some places now like to offer a cafe setting for students to encourage them to use the library but I prefer to ban food and drink from the library setting as much as possible. A maker space would be a good way to attract students of all ages if you have the funds and the space for it. I have a conference room for small group meetings for social workers, recruiters, book club meetings, PLC meetings, etc.

I strongly suggest signage to assist students with locating materials, and I suggest the use of colorful literacy-related posters. Remember to host as many literacy-related programs as possible: National Library Card Sign-Up Month, Teen Read Week, Banned Book Week, National Library Month, Read Across America, Read for the Record, Drop Everything and Read, etc.

Ridgeway HS Library Reading Interest SurveyI also do special things like trick or treat the librarian, and I have a library orientation scavenger hunt. I find that hosting annual orientation is the best way to make students aware of what you offer, your policies and your procedures. I also try to include students when ordering books by asking for recommendations from them. I have a survey on my school website for students and for teachers to complete about their interests and needs. I provide a link to the OPAC on my library website.

Many people are using social media now to strike up interest in the library. Let the children know that you are there for them. I try to go the extra mile by posting scholarship information on my website and by reading over students’ papers when they ask me to.

Providing a clean and inviting environment is one of the best ways to get them in the door. Make sure your collection is up-to-date. Offer a book swap basket where you place paperback books that can be exchanged (no strings attached) for paperbacks that students have already read and have sitting around the house.

RHS Library - a welcoming space

RHS Library – a welcoming space

Come in early, stay late, and leave the library open through all lunch periods so students know that they are welcome and you are available. Host a teacher library orientation session so you can get teachers on board with library use. Co-teach classes when possible. Many students will come to the library as their “safety zone” if they are loners or if they are trying to avoid trouble. Make everyone feel welcome.

Susan Harris, Ridgeway High School Librarian, Memphis TNSusan Harris is in her 26th year as a school librarian.  She has served as a public librarian, an elementary school librarian and a high school librarian.  Mrs. Harris graduated from Northwest Community College, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Southern Mississippi.  She holds a Master of Library and Information Science Degree.  She welcomes all students to visit the library for pleasure reading, research, and study, and is willing to stay after hours to assist students when needed.
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3 Ways to Use Quotes in the School Library

3 Ways to Use Quotes in the School Library - Quotations inspire & motivate us, and a great quote can prompt student questioning and creative thinking. School Librarians can use quotes in 3 ways: as book teasers, to illuminate Library Lessons, and as promotional displays for the School Library. #NoSweatLibraryQuotes are very popular on blogs and social media because people find them inspiring and motivating. Quotes are also useful in the School Library—a great quote can prompt student questioning and creative thinking in ways that a mere statement, or even a good question, cannot.

As a School Librarian I use quotes 3 different ways:

  • A reading teaser to arouse interest in a book.
  • In Library Lessons to highlight a theme or enhance a concept.
  • As promotional displays on bulletin boards and library walls to advocate for the School Library.


Many School Librarians use quotations during booktalks, especially the first line on the first page. We all know how enticing that first line can be:

  • “Call me Ishmael.”
  • “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”
  • “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
  • “I considered saying no.” (from my daughter’s first published book)

Use a Quote to Entice Students to Read - Use a quote to show students why reading the first page of a book can help them decide whether to read the rest of it. Give them my IT IS FOR ME checklist to help them even more. #NoSweatLibraryI ‘tease’ the first line of a book to demonstrate to students why the first page is on the IT IS FOR ME! checklist that helps them choose a good book.

A librarian colleague has a wall of windows facing into a hallway, and students can write a favorite book quote on the glass with brightly colored markers.

I don’t have large windows, but when students talk about a good book, I give them a color 3” x 5” index card to write a quote and staple it to their grade level bulletin board.


I learned the value of using a quotation to start a lesson while collaborating with a student teacher on a folktales lesson. She displayed a quote from John Lennon on a presentation slide as students entered the library:

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.

You could see the anticipation on their faces as they read it and wondered what the lesson would be about. After that experience I began to use quotations to give students a taste of a forthcoming Library Lesson.

My favorite lesson starter is for Night of the Notables, our 8g culminating project. It’s such an inspirational way to introduce students to the significance of the 200+ Notables they can choose to embody. I also place this quote as a sign on their grade level bulletin board to excite them about the coming event.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow quote

We can also use quotes during Library Lessons to illuminate a concept outside a student’s normal understanding. My Renaissance Brown-Bag Biography Lesson is the year’s first research project for 6g Advanced Academics students. These middle school students cannot comprehend a time when there was no public education and few could read, so I begin my lesson by telling them that 1450 is an important date in history because invention of the printing press made reading a crucial skill. I then quote excerpts from the book Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman, including these:

So powerful—perhaps even magical—was the capacity to read that it could save a man from the gallows. “The said Paul reads, to be branded; the said William does not read, to be hanged.” (p.32)

Of 204 men sentenced to death for a first offense …, 95 of them pleaded “benefit of clergy,” which meant that they could meet the challenge of reading a sentence from the Bible, and therefore, would be spared from the gallows. (p.40)

Students are much more interested in researching this time period after learning that the ability to read could literally save your life!


At my first staff development as a new librarian, the principal shared a quote which I placed in large letters above the circulation desk and often use it to encourage students:

“Everything you need for your success is within you.”

Bulletin Board Quotes Can Promote the School Library - Learn how School Librarians can customize bulletin boards with quotes to promote reading and using the library. Join my email group & learn more with my FREE ebook "Purposeful Library Bulletin Boards." #NoSweatLibraryBulletin boards can promote our School Library Program to students, faculty, administration, and visitors. I customize 3 library bulletin boards near grade level hallways to coordinate the grade’s classroom content. Each bulletin board has a few rotating features that include a quotation or meme to promote reading and using the library:

  • An English Language Arts sign for each grading period’s theme:
    • Prejudice & hatred arise from seeing only differences. Tolerance comes from recognizing similarities.
    • Open books encourage open minds.
    • What we see depends mainly on what we look for. (John Lubbock, statesman)
  • A sign promoting each grade’s Special Social Studies Collection:
    • Reading is a window to the world.
    • The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. (Thomas Jefferson)
  • Infographics of online services for subject area research projects:
    Get Better Grades! Use Library Online Services!

I use a 4th bulletin board—visible to everyone on their way to the cafeteria—for a monthly theme, often with a related quotation:

  • September, November, February, and May are Heritage Months: Hispanic, Native American/Indigenous Peoples, Black History, and Asian/Pacific American. For Black History Month we also make a timeline around the exterior walls of the library and each day we add a student-created sign with a quote about a significant event or person of note.
  • October includes National Red Ribbon Week, and through the years I’ve collected very creative advertisements & posters with quotes about alcohol, smoking, and drugs. Students help choose items and prepare the display, and they sure know how to draw attention to the bulletin board and this issue!


In another blog post I shared a few quotes that may be personally inspirational for school librarians, one of which I like to keep posted near my desk so I keep my Library Lessons succinct and relevant:

Kids have a long attention span, but a low tolerance for boredom.

My favorite quote, from Louis L’Amour’s The Walking Drum has been displayed in my classroom and then in my school library for 25 years. Many students have told me it helps them appreciate the importance of school. I now display it on my blog (top right, under my photo) to inspire those who visit me here.

Christa McAuliffe - NASA public domain photoMy final quote constantly reminds me how important our work is; it, too, is at the top of my blog. A former principal, who knew how meaningful it is to me, gave me a pin of the quote, which I wear on my coat. It’s all the more poignant for remembering whence it came:

I touch the future; I teach.
(Teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe)

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