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A library's first contact with parents


This question was recently posted to LM_Net:

Do any of you send a letter home with students at the beginning of the year that explains library rules, routines, info, etc..?  If so, could you please share so I could generate some ideas. Thanks in advance.

Ah, the first thing our parents hear from us are our RULES! 

Why not hit them with our SERVICES in that first communication instead?

Rather than...

Dear Parents,

Please be aware of the library's rules:

  • Your child is allowed to check out two books each week.
  • Books must be checked out and returned on the specified library days.
  • If a book is not returned, no additional books can be checked out.
  • Fines will accrue for late books.
  • Lost books must be paid for by parents before report cards are issued.

Your librarian


Dear Parents,

The library program has some exciting opportunities in store for your child this year:

  • Our curriculum will be promoting the very best of children's literature to your child with activities designed to help student's enjoy the stories even more.
  • We be doing our very best to get (or keep) your children "hooked on reading" by recommending specific reading materials to each individual.
  • At each grade level, students will be learning research and computer skills specifically suited to their developmental needs. 
  • The new iPads in the library will be available for reading e-book this year!
  • We have a lot of special events being planned, including author visits, a book fair, and reading contests.
  • If you would like to volunteer to help in the library, please let me know. We'd love to have you.

Your librarian

Parents can and should be our greatest advocates, but this will only happen if we communicate the positive. Sure, it's OK to communicate library "rules." But what priority should this communication be given? Think about it.

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Reader Comments (15)

Thank you so much for this reminder. Such a simple thing but it's so easy to get caught up in how important the RULES are. I am off to change my intro letter right now, to better reflect our positive, friendly library.

August 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

You are so correct! Thanks for reminding all of us...

August 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette


May I use this letter in my first online newsletter? I will be making some changes, but would like your permission to use all but the part about iPads. With the rush to get ready for school I thought this would be an excellent way to get started.


August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrish Kosik

We be loving this! ;-) I write a similar blog post every year! "YOU are our BEST Customer" was my latest on our MHMS Daring School Eudublogs! But maybe I should mirror that on our school electronic newsletter, too! Or...maybe even spring for postage! Ooooh!...I could make a comic version! Whew...Doug Johnson inspires again! Whammy! Pow! Zap! You're awesome, hon!

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGwyneth Jones

As always, Doug - you hit the nail right on the head! Love it!


August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Hi Trish,

Please use the letter if you'd like. Keep the idea of promoting the positive things for kids in your program but modify it to your specific library. i wrote it only as a very fast example!


Hi Gwyneth,

I love the royal we. (Not letting this ISTE board stuff go to your head, I hope.)

When I provide YOU with inspiration, I am amazed! You are the one who inspires we mere mortals.

Enjoy the remaining days of summer,


Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for the comment.

Really liked your last post on using gaming in PD. I am absolutely stealing that idea for an upcoming workshop and I shared it with my staff dev gurus here. Fantastic idea!


August 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Doug,
As a first year librarian, your suggestions are so helpful!! May I use your letter in my first communication to parents? And now to read more of your blogs:)

August 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

This is something we all need to remember. I've really tried to embrace this mentality lately, letting students check out even though they have late books (gasp!) and trying not to complain about various aspects of my job to my fellow educators. I think it's so important to shake the old hard core library mentality and let our customers (students and parents) know that above all else, we want kids to love books.

August 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJocelyn S.

Would love to use your letter as a base and run with it - may I, please?

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralyssa

Hi Alyssa and Sarah,

Use it but make it better!

Have a great school year,


Hi Jocelyn,

We should always be asking: Which is more important - a book or a child? I hope we always come down on the side of the child.


August 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Thanks for making such a positive statement.

August 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMamie Anthoine Ney

Hi Marnie,

You are welcome. It's vital that we parent advocates for our programs!


August 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Thank you for sharing. I have always posted or sent a letter home with the "rules". I am re-doing my letter now that reinforces the postives.

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCamille

Thanks for a great letter idea. I see that you give permission to modify and use:) I will be doing so. Thanks for the great reminders!


September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Hi Anna,

I am happy to know it's been helpful.


September 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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