How to Market to School Librarians

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are roughly 114,000 K-12 schools in the U.S. with a library staffed by a school librarian.1 

A 2023 survey by School Library Journal reports that only 55% of school libraries offer tech-related activities, down from 79% in 2019. Librarians are helping with other tech-purchasing decisions, such as buying databases to be used school-wide or technology learning tools such circuitry kits or robots.2 The average library media center budget may be around $6,355, but school librarians are asked to weigh in on other school purchases, ranging from instructional resources to technology.3

Due to a wide variety of factors, the number of school librarians has dropped by nearly 20% since 20004. However, they continue to be an important part of the school buying cycle because of their unique background and training. Yes, librarians influence the purchase of more than just books!

Here are five tips for marketing to school librarians:

  1. Librarians care about helping students build critical thinking skills and digital literacy skills. Think about how your products or resources support those skills, and build it into your messaging.
  2. Check out your programs’ alignment to the National School Library Standards. These standards are all aligned to other state and national K-12 standards that a district may have adopted. You will find the alignment information on the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) website, and you can weave that information into appropriate marketing campaigns.
  3. In addition to standards, school librarians have their own state and national conferences. AASL hosts a national conference biannually, and most state groups have an annual conference. The state conferences are typically quite affordable to exhibit at or sponsor, and they give you a great opportunity to meet librarians face-to-face.
  4. Take advantage of School Library Month (April) to develop a campaign that celebrates librarians, the value of their education and training, and their important role in schools.
  5. MDR has more than 102,000 school librarians/media specialists in our database. You can start building a list today to use in your campaigns.

As We Are Teachers reports, the loss of school librarians is hurting both kids and teachers. The education community should recognize them, celebrate them, and leverage them as purchasing influencers in their schools.

Sources: 1NCES Fast Facts: Libraries

2SLJ Technology Survey: AI Under Debate

3During COVID, Libraries Prioritized Electronic Resources, Fiction | SLJ 2021 Spending Survey

4U.S. Public Schools Have Lost Nearly 20% Of Their Librarians Since 2000