What are your plans for back to school night or open house? I have often struggled with this over the years. Most families spend their time meeting their teacher, gathering forms and information and chatting with their friends. For years I was lucky to have 10 families stop in. This was always discouraging because open house is the perfect time to introduce the library to parents and students and begin to showcase all the library has to offer, besides just checking out books.
Below are 10 ideas you can implement to help you have a successful open house.
1. Hand out informational bookmarks
Because parents receive so many papers at open house, I like to give out bookmarks instead. The bookmarks can have a variety of information on them. You can include check-out policies, an overview of some of the lessons or standards taught or a few recommended books. Put on a QR code that links to the library website or catalog.
You can still hand out these bookmarks during the first week of school. You can include them in whatever information packets your school sends home. Or if you are able to check out books give them to students to take home during their first check-out of the year.
In my store you can find a set of free, editable bookmarks that you can use and customize for your own library. Click on the image below to download them.
2. Library Open House Slideshow
A slideshow is one of the easiest and most effective ways you can showcase the library for both in-person and virtual open houses. You can have it playing in the library or provide a link for parents and students to view your slideshow.
Information you will want to include this year will be procedures for checking out books. If you are not sure of the procedure yet, put that in there. Be honest about it. If students are allowed to be in school let parents know you can deliver books to their classroom. Outline how you plan to collect books from students and any cleaning procedures you have in place. You can also add any information you have about library lessons. Will you be doing virtual lessons, story times, going into the classroom when students are in the building? Other ideas include:
- About me section – provide a few basic facts about yourself. Include a fun fact as well. You may want to do one for your library assistant as well if you have one.
- Library rules and policies
- Check-out policies
- Statistics – how many books are in the library, how many books are checked out each year or how many classes visit the library a week.
- New books added over the summer
- Special events or activities
- Upcoming book fair information
- Photographs from past years
- Information about what is taught in the library
You can download a copy of this slideshow from the free resource library. It has been updated to include both a PowerPoint and a Google Slides version. Both are editable.
3. Host a book raffle
Gather up some paperback books and hold a raffle at your library open house. In order to enter families have to come to the library to fill out a raffle ticket. You can announce the winners on the first day of school.
4. Makerspace or STEM
Bring out some simple makerspace materials and have families create something. Here is a free, family STEM challenge that you can try.
5. Coloring or craft projects
Provide coloring pages or a simple craft for students to complete. Or you can just put out a bunch of crayons and scrap paper. Younger brothers and sisters will especially like this.
6. Specials teacher presentation
Get together with the other specials teachers and do a group activity. You can do a presentation or have a booth set up in a central location. Families can stop by and collect brochures or materials you want to hand out. This way families can meet all of the specials teachers at one time.
7. Host a book fair
I have never done this myself (I’m not brave enough!) But I have heard from other librarians that this can be very successful. This might be a good time to try out a Follett book fair.
8. Check-out books at your library open house
Allow students to look for and check out library books. Encourage parents to share one of their favorite books with their child and then let the child check out that book. If you do not want to check the books out, have a stack of books available for families to look through and read together.
9. Set-up a photo booth
Photo booths are a fun and creative way to not only encourage families to come into the library but to also create a lasting memory. You can collect email address and email the photos to the parents or print them out if that is an option for you. You can buy the props from Oriental Trading or make your own. There are also many free ones you can download. This website has some free back to school props you can print out.
Instead of a photo booth set up a shelfie booth! Take photos of parents reading with their children. You can still share them with parents or ask teachers to post them in their Google Classroom. Or set up a bulletin board display with all the different pictures.
10. Reading interest surveys
This is a great way to get to know your students reading habits and interests. You can give out paper surveys and have the students fill them out right then. Or if you have access to a set of Chromebooks or iPads you can create a Google forms survey. This way there are no papers to keep track of and the survey can be completed quickly and delivered directly to you. If you own one of my library planners there are surveys in there you can print and use.