The original article published in Japanese ( https://current.ndl.go.jp/e2498 )
Current Awareness-E No.436
9 June, 2022
Towards “Library Newsletters that Students Want to Read”
Kagoshima Prefectural Sensatsu Seishukan High School, where I work, has two courses: business accounting course and general course. Although it is a small school with less than 200 students, students put a lot of effort into their studies as well as club activities. Each student makes the most of his or her personality to enjoy their school life. As part of “Exploration Studies”, a subject offered in the general course, I offer “Exploration Orientation” to lecture on how to use the library and its materials. I also encourage learning utilizing library materials. As a school librarian (hereafter “librarian”), I find this school rewarding.
One of the tasks that I put much effort in as a librarian is publishing the library newsletters. Our newsletter is published 11 times a year (except for August). Why do I focus my effort on library newsletters? For one reason, students cannot see the attempts made in the library unless they actually come. However, library newsletters are distributed to all students without exceptions. Information from the library is delivered even to students not interested in reading or those who have lost the momentum to visit the library. As such, I place importance on producing library newsletters to encourage students to come to the library.
It was a remark of a student that made me think in this way. It was when a few months had passed after I transferred and joined this school. A student told me that when the library newsletter was distributed, “There was a person who threw it away without reading.” At first, I was shocked. But then I began to think, “It’s me who’s creating a library newsletter that’s worth throwing away.” I reviewed the past newsletters and began producing one with thoughts about how I be creative.The first idea was “to create a newsletter towards students who feel uncomfortable with printed words”. Library newsletters are meaningless if they are not read. I therefore decided to create a newsletter prioritizing delivery of information. The first thing I did was to reduce the number of words on a page. I cut the greetings from the librarian that had always come first and used that space to introduce books. I tried to use shortest possible sentence for topics like synopsis of books. I also came up with a character that appears in library newsletters. By having that character speak in speech bubbles, I tried not to make important points buried in other sentences. I also made the basic rule of using universal design fonts. I also began introducing non-literature books and tried to come up with section titles that are appealing to students. I’ve come to give thoughts to “why I do so” for each component of the newsletter. Although gradually, I believe that impression towards the newsletter among students and school staff improved. In FY2022, I introduced a reader-participating project, using a QR code to collect responses for a questionnaire. In the May issue, with May 21 being the “Day of detective”, I asked, “What name comes to your mind when you think of a ‘detective’”? I am looking forward to the responses as there are many different detectives that appear in novels, manga, TV dramas, movies, and games.
As part of these diverse efforts, I decided to include an eight-panel comic strip in library newsletters. The purpose was to include an element of “monthly fun that does not change”. It has been six years since I began including comic strips in library newsletters. The comic is about daily lives in the library and funny things that happen in librarian’s work. For episodes with students, I ask, “Can I make a come strip out from our conversation the other day?” Students are always happy to say yes. Some students even say, “It’s okay if you want to use this as a source”. The same is true for school staff, saying “I can appear in the comic strip”. Although not all episodes are directly on reading or books, they convey the atmosphere of the library.
Assuming that the front page will be on the top when library newsletters are distributed, I put the comic strip on the back side. By doing so, I hope that students will look at the book introduction also on the back side. Gradually, more and more students are visiting the library, asking “Do you have the book that was in this month’s newsletter?” Students seem to look forward to the newsletters saying, “This month’s issue was fun again!” “Is this month’s issue out yet?” The eight-frame comic strips seem to be a conversation or a discussion starter not only in the library but also in classrooms and faculty room. It takes a lot of time and energy to find new stories and illustrations every month, but I do my best for those who look forward to the newsletters.
On February 24, 2022, comic strips were compiled in a booklet and was released on the school’s website. Students in the library committee selected which comics to include from the past five years. The title of the booklet is “Our Library”. This was also an idea of the library committee members. The booklet was well received, and was distributed to neighboring junior high schools and posted on the school’s website to publicize the school. The booklet is still available for viewing from the banner on our school’s website (until August 31, 2022). If you are interested, please take a look.
Written by Sakakuchi Miho
Kagoshima Prefectural Sensatsu Seishukan High School
Translated by Okada Aya*Notes are not translated and remain in Japanese language.
“「うちの図書館」期間限定公開！”. 鹿児島県立川薩清修館高等学校. 2022-02-24.
寿ジュリア. うちの図書館. 鹿児島県立川薩清修館高等学校, 2022, 35p.
“04.図書だより”. 鹿児島県立川薩清修館高等学校 公式ブログ.