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NYC School Librarian Guidebook: Virtual Face of the Library

Websites--Esther Keller (JHS 278K Marine Park)


        Creating an online presence is vital for today’s library. Creating a website can be a simple process with only limited or even no knowledge of a programming language.  Librarians can take advantage of the many free sites that build a website or use alternatives like wikis and blogs.  

        The purpose of a school’s library website is to promote the library and offer a virtual space.  A website should provide quick access to the library’s catalog, databases, and offer help with homework and class assignment.  In addition, librarians, in collaboration with teachers, can showcase exemplar student work. 


        Libraries, if they have the funds, can reach out to a professional to build a site, but most school libraries are on a tight budget and can make use of free sites like Google Sites (http://‎),  Snappages (, Weebly ( and other such sites.  These sites will also host your site for free. 

        Promoting the library’s website is important.  First and foremost, librarians should try and invest a nominal fee in branding their website with a domain that reflects the name of your school library.  (i.e. [].  The yearly cost is approximately $15 and domains can be purchased from sites like GoDaddy ( or 1&1 (

        In addition, promote your library’s website by word of mouth. Each time you bring a class in, mention the site. Use it with your classes as they complete projects in the library.  Librarians can distribute bookmarks with the library’s URL; hang signs in the library and around school, so students are aware of the library’s virtual presence. 


        It is imperative that librarians creating a library’s webpage be cognizant of the DOE student privacy rules. Do not post photos of students without using the DOE Media Consent form (  

Best Practices

  • Link your catalog directly to this page.  If you are using Destiny, you can turn off the home page and then directly link to the catalog.  

To turn off the home page, go to Back Office --> Access Levels--> Guest --> uncheck view homepage.  Repeat for all access levels.

To directly link your catalog, use the following URL:  replace the four xxxx's with your site ID. 

  • Create Pathfinders (topic guides) for your students.   Often there are popular topics covered in multiple grades or multiple classes.  Librarians can curate resources, both in print and online, and post it to the webpage for common assignments.
  • Create a project page.  If collaborating with a classroom teacher , create a project page that includes the assignment, due dates, and resources that will help students complete the assignment.  When assignment are complete, post student work to the page.
  • Homework help.  Create a resource page for homework help and homework help resources.
  • Create a page for your library’s reference databases (such as NovelNY).  Remember, you cannot post the passwords here!
  • Offer students a place to post online reviews of their books.
  • Create a page for parent resources. 
  • Create a page for teacher resources.
  • Post the latest news for the library.
  • Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.Create a page of library rules and regulations.
  • Post pictures of events in your library and how the library is used.
  • Make sure students can contact you, whether you link your email address or create a form. 


     If librarians do not want to invest the time in building an entire site, they can use alternatives like blogs and wikis to create a school library presence.  These can work as well as sites and contain the same information as a standard website. In addition, it might enable more web 2.0 interactivity.  Some example of free blogs are Wordpress (, Blogger (, and Edublogs (

   In addition, librarians who run on Destiny, can use Destiny's built in website builter to build a homepage.  Though this isn't necessarily as robust as other options.


Time is a limitation. But building a website does not have to happen overnight.  "Attack" each component of your planned website and take small steps to build the site.  Start with the important links: To your catalog.  To your databases.  Q&A about your library.


Exemplary Websites: 

Seward Campus Library - Rena Deutsch, librarian

P.S. 32 Library - Adam Marcus, librarian.  This is a great example of a library website that lies directly on the school's page.  


Blogs--Adam Marcus (PS 32K)


Blogging is a great way to keep the library as the educational and literacy hub of the school. It is a great way to communicate with parents and staff. You can Blog about the importance of libraries and reading, give advice and information to parents, showcase library initiatives, provide information on curriculum, on technology, on the collection highlight public literacy and family events outside of your library.


I sent out a flyer and had the PTA president send an email, and I spoke about it at a PTA meeting. I mention the Blog often in communications sent home. If teaching students how to Blog I would begin with a shared Blogging experience for the whole class. I would take them through the entire process as a group and then have them create Blogs based on a topic that I provide, eventually allowing them to create Blogs based on their interests. I would collaborate with their classroom teachers to see how to incorporate Blogging into the classroom curriculum.


WordPress or are password protected sites.

Best Practices

I do not currently use Blogging with students but here are some ideas that I would like to implement in the future (can be done as typed Blog or video):

·  Students Blog about their reading life

·  Students Blog book reviews

·  Students Blog about using various library resources

·  Students Blog about topics of personal interest

·  Blogging as an option for an inquiry product

·  Students Blog as an exit assessment detailing their experience with the process, what was easy, difficult and challenging, what they learned about their topic, what they learned themselves, what they learned about the process, what will they do with their newfound knowledge, what they will pursue next.

·  Students Blog about current events at the school

·  Students running for school government can Blog about their campaign

·  Students can create a Blog featuring interviews of different staff members and/or students

·  Students can use a Blog to create poetry anthology


Print newsletters, Tweeting, Tumblr, CheckThis, Storify



You can set up a Blog for free at many sites. My school’s website is done using WordPress so I use that. Before the school got our site, I used‎ (free for educators and run by WordPress.

We have a parent running the school site and he knows HTML. You do not have to know any to use WordPress, but it helps with some of the formatting.

The greatest limitation is finding the time to keep your Blog current.  It is time consuming and the audience might be limited. 

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