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BFTP: Your library's back-to-school letter


A weekend Blue Skunk "feature" will be a revision of an old post. I'm calling this BFTP: Blast from the Past. Original post A Library's First Contact with Parents, August 10, 2008. These posts, Gary Stager, "Oh, Those Backto-School Packets" and Will Richardson, "First Chance to Make a Learning Impression", made me think about the first impression we as librarians make on 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 only two books at a time.
  • 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.
  • No personal electronic devices, food, or drink are allowed in the library

Your librarian


Dear Parents,

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

  • Our program 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 will be doing our very best to get (or keep) your children "hooked on reading" by recommending specific reading materials to each individual.
  • We will add 100 or more new titles this year of the latest and most exciting new books for young readers, including quality non-fiction to help meet the Common Core requirements.
  • At each grade level, students will be learning research and computer skills specifically suited to their developmental needs. 
  • We will be working with classroom teachers to help them find materials especially suited to the individual interests and abilities of your child.
  • Library lessons will stress good Digital Citizenship, helping your child make safe and ethical decisions when using the Internet.
  • The new iPads in the library will be available for reading e-books this year! 
  • Our new "maker-space" is available to all children who want to edit a movie, create a podcast, or edit photographs - and the library staff will help them.
  • 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.

Our staff is ready and excited about this coming year and is committed to making the library your child's favorite place in the school!

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.

See also

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Reader Comments (11)

I LOVE IT!!! I have never done a newsletter home for my junior high students, but you have given me an awesome model! Thanks!

August 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Glatt

Thank you so much. This is what I've been looking for. It is long past time for a change.

August 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

Thanks, Michelle. Anything we can do to build advocacy through information about our programs is critical in today's school funding situation.

All the best,


August 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Just what I needed to read today! I'm planning the library year right now.

Here's my It's Monday!

August 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeb Nance

Thank you. I have always loved reading your inspired articles. Is it posiible for one to see the research and computer skills you teach at Mankato?

August 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarta Tome

Hi Marta,

Here are our district's Information and Technology Literacy standards as shared GoogleDocs. Let me know if you have any problems accessing them.

All the best,


August 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Do you mind if we borrow and adjust your letter? It is wonderful!!

August 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKriss

Hi Kriss,

Everything on my site(s) is under Creative Commons license. Use as you can, but agree to share what you've created with my material with others as well.

All the best,


August 14, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Doug,
Great article; I love the picture! Do we have permission to repost it?
Thanks, Joanna

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoanna Gerakios

Hi Joanna,

Please use anything from the blog or my website. It's all under CreativeCommons. Just cite the source!

All the best,


August 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Love it! Adapting for my parent letter today. Thanks for the positive inspiration!

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBetsy

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