Thursday, January 14, 2016

Library Information Sessions for Parents


Some of the parents who regularly attend my Library Info sessions at Chatsworth.

I started these sessions around May 2015 and I’ve had a very positive response from parents.  I started with 4 sessions, now there are 7.  I added the 3 additional session based on parent feedback and what they wanted to know more about.

Library Information Sessions - Advantages

These sessions garnered parent support for my role as a librarian in many ways:
  • Parents get to experience, and appreciate, how we work with students and teachers, and what we are capable of (LOTS!!!).
  • Parents understand how we, libraries, and onlines sources are essential resources to learning.  They learn to appreciate our expertise.  There is an alternative to Google and Wikipedia. Let us show you they way!
  • Your user stats will go up.  If we educate parents how to use our sources (both online and print), they encourage their children to do so at home, outside of the classroom and library.
  • By couching these sessions in the context of the IB programme (or whatever curriculum your school uses), you demonstrate how the role of the librarian is essential to support the curriculum.  One example is our work with information literacy within the framework of the ATL (Approaches to Learning) for the IB MYP (Middle Years Programme).  
  • Parents have given me useful feedback as to how I can better collaborate with teachers and students.  They are a resource too.
  • Since parents have become more aware of the resources and the librarian, they encourage the administrators to support me and teachers to collaborate with me.  My Head of Primary has mentioned this to me. Consequently, I’ve been given more “airtime” to talk about the library during staff meetings and recently held a session during one of our PD days.
  • Parents tell me that I have shown them “safe” places where their kids can search.  That’s a tough challenge with the deluge of information out there - and it’s not all age appropriate, never mind reading levels.  
  • Parents feel more confident evaluating and searching for information with their children.  For this reason, they feel they can take a more active role in supporting their children with their school work.  

Content - What I Cover

This is what I cover in 7 sessions.  Each session is about an 45mins to an hour.  Your content may be different based on what sources you have and the students/curricular needs of your specific school or even grade level (eg. secondary vs. junior vs primary).

NLB Part One - Save space, money and get your child reading
A NLB membership offers access to both online and print sources. Come learn the many benefits of being a member. If your child is in the IB PYP, MYP or DP programme, this will benefit them and save you money.  This session will include a tour at the library@orchard at 313.  
ebonline - Britannica School Online
Discover life beyond Wikipedia and the advantages of ebonline.  Learn what your child can find that is age and reading level appropriate for their school work.
*bring laptop or tablet*
EbscoHost Online Research Databases
Find out how your students have access to thousands of magazines, newspapers and academic articles with EbscoHost.
*bring laptop or tablet*
Academic Honesty and How to Avoid Plagiarism
Learn what qualifies as plagiarism and what is acceptable to hand in as your own original work.   We will also look at the different consequences of plagiarism in real life scenarios.
Search Strategies and Evaluating Information
Find out how to broaden, narrow and focus your online searches.  After you get your results, we will look at how to select the best source for your task at hand.
*bring laptop or tablet*
How to Search the Online Library Catalog
You will learn how to search for library books from our school library online and check your child’s library records, view POI-linked books for PRI, and Extended Essays for SEC and Webpath Express, a useful search tool with content approved by educators.
*bring laptop or tablet*
NLB - Part Two
Online Resources - It’s more than books
If you have a NLB (National Library Board) membership, find out how you have access to literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of free databases, online books, talks and more.  
*bring laptop or tablet* you should have a NLB membership, but it is not essential


  • I aim to make my sessions relevant for K-12 students. I want as broad of an audience to attract as many parents as I can.  Maybe you don’t have to do that if you are only a primary or secondary librarian.
  • Schedule a regular time and day so it becomes a habit for parents. Parents at my school know it’s every Tues 9:30am in the library
  • Block it on your timetable so that you and the parents can have the library to yourselves.  Teachers need to know that time is for parents so I note that in my shared timetable to all primary and secondary teachers.
  • Give a month’s notice before you run them.  I do these on the second month after the beginning of each semester so that parents can settle down first after a long holiday
  • Send out weekly reminders if possible.  I do mine through the Parents Blog every Friday for the upcoming session the following Tuesday
  • Ask parents what they found useful and not useful so you can modify it to their needs if possible.  
  • Use Google forms to track attendance and stats
  • Even if a few parents turn up, they will spread the word.  I have parents that now send out reminders for these sessions to all the parents of their child’s classroom now.  
  • Work with the parents group/association in your school so they can get the word out through their network.
  • The NLB (National Library Board) is a valuable resource for any parent who has child enrolled in the IB Curriculum
    • Diploma - Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge, internal assessment work for all subjects), World Literature
    • Middle Years Programme - information literacy, research, personal project, general reading - we get our summer reading lists from the NLB so guess where they can find the books - for free (ok not including NLB membership fee)?
    • Primary Years Programme - units of inquiry use no textbooks so the more comprehensive and wider children read about their unit-related transdisciplinary themes, the better.  No one can offer the vast array of unit/age/reading level appropriateness that NLB does.
    • … and they will never have to pack and move another book when they leave Singapore!
    • All that for less than $50SGD per year.

If you have any ideas how we can improve our library information session for parents, drop me an email at  I would be interested to hear about your experiences.

Good luck.

Elaine Fong
Chatsworth International School - Orchard Campus