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A few days ago, I posted a question about what others do in the library
for parent night.  We are having a portfolio day at our school where
parents are signing up for a block of time anywhere between 2:00pm and
8:00pm to go to their child's homeroom and view their child's portfolios
from their classes.  I want to somehow entice parents into the library to
show them what we offer, but the time is very unstructured - this isn't
like our regular Open House we have in the fall.  Since I received so many
good responses, I want to share them with everyone!

Thanks so much to all who responded!  The suggestions were wonderful.
Since my time is short to get ready for this, I think I am going to put a
sign on the door of the library and one on the office, directing parents
to the library and have teachers mention to parents that they can stop by
the library.  I have typed up an explanation of all of our computer
resources and how to access them which I will put next to each computer,
and I have several student projects displayed around the room.  Hopefully
some of the kids will want to bring their parents in to show off their
projects!  I will also display new books on the tables and around the room
and have some booklists and bookmarks for the taking.  I think I'll have
some music playing and I'll DEFINITELY have food!!  And of course I will
be there to talk to the parents about the library program, and I have some
brochures that feature the library which I will have available.  And you
all have given me some WONDERFUL ideas that I will definitely incorporate
next year for all of our parent nights!!

  Here is my HIT:  (I will post this in 2 parts, because it is quite

Several people suggested running a book fair in the library during this
time.  Unfortunately, I cannot do that.  I do run a book fair during
parent/teacher conferences in November, and it is a great success.
Unfortunately, because we are in an ancient building with no elevator and
the library is on the second floor, I must hold my book fairs in the
corner of the cafeteria, because the bookcases cannot get up to the second
floor!  (We are in the process of building a new middle school!)  My goal
this time is to get parents to actually walk through the library and see
what we have to offer, so a book fair wouldn't work for me right now.  But
it is a great suggestion, and something I will definitely do when we are
finally in our new school!

Also, many, many people suggested serving refreshments!  "Feed them, and
they will come!"
 On our Parent Conference evening, I set up a used book sale in the main
gathering area (which in our case is the gym) and sell everything for 25
cents.  The books have been gathered through discards, donations, and a
book drive that I do each Fall right before the parent night.
  Don't know if that would work for your evening, but for us it is a great
way to be a "presence" and to promote reading.
What about displaying any new books (or recently new) all over your tables
so that everywhere they look there are gorgeous book covers to entice them.
Just brainstorming but how about "readings" by the students. I've seen
high school students do "readings" in a book store. They just stand,
smile and read a section from a book.
Or a video running of students reading!
I always have several small displays of new books.  It looks inviting.  I
know it isn't much but it makes a great impression if you have a scented
candle going or light a potpourri pot.  I also put some soft music on a cd
on the computer.  Parents always comment on the good smell.
You could offer training on Internet or other electronic resources.
Parents seems to respond well to that.
I usually play classical music on a computer (I do this daily), have the
school web site up, some CD's running for parent to look at, new or really
cool books on display.  If the students are with the parents, maybe they
can show them around the room; show them their favorite book, CD, web
site.  Put a BIG sign outside your door inviting them in.
We have put out signs in front of the Library to invite parents to see
the latest additions to our website. Another idea would be to put a
selection of new books in the entry way with a sign inviting parents to
see some of your other new books inside. This works well with new kids
parents and Kindergarten parents. I usually get  parents stopping in. Of
course I have a new and inviting room. If yours is older or less
inviting you might lure them in with a display of help-your-child-in
school or help-your-child-learn-to-read brochures. You could hang around
in the doorway with a Hi-I'm the LMS badge.

Actually I welcome this time to catch up on lite work while being
available for any visitors.
If you have some very easy hands on activities, the parents might be lured.
1. A tray of shells or rocks with a magnifying glass or two.

2. A computer set to a program or to your catalog with a large colorful
poster next to the computer giving the steps, in large type, to access the
program and reach something interesting. Remember to include steps to get
out of the program.

3. A jig saw puzzle laid out and ready to work on.

4. Crayons or markers, paper, field guides, and cards with teasers (one
subject per book): "Make a picture of a .....dragonfly / .....conch shell /
.......dachshund / ......dogwood / .....daisy / .....red eft / .......and
we will hang your picture in the library."

5. Hang an informative poster and pose an open-ended question about it that
people can give their opinions on.  For example: A poster of several kinds
of whales and a pad of paper with a question at the top:
If you were a whale, which whale would you like to be and why?
Divide the page vertically into columns headed:

6. Have a math teaser in graph form.  Invite people to add a sticker to the
column that reflects their situation.
For example: Make a poster with horizontal columns.  The beginning of each
column is the name of a pet, eg: dog, cat, turtle, fish, horse. Include a
column that says "No pet".  Have people add one sticker to the column of
the pet they have at home.  Other ideas for graphs are limitless.  You
could ask food preferences or favorite sports or birthday month, etc.
Announce the results the next day.

7. Have a stack of summer reading lists or book marks to take home.
(I have a summer list for anyone to copy at the following site:
I would like to suggest a power point presentation explaining your
program, maybe showing kids using the resources - something simple but
flashy and professional. Put your power point presentation on an automatic
slide show setting and just let it go. Parents will be drawn to it,
especially if you have music to go along with it, and they will think you
are a technology whiz!!
One of the things we always do  is set up a table for book donations.  We
have about 50 books for all age and interest levels and parents can donate
them  - with a special dedication to a child or teacher if they wish.
  I have contemplated in the past having my Library Club members each be at
a computer station and have them help the parents and students locate
information, books, use the internet, teach them what a Boolean search is,
just exactly what we teach them during our many lessons during Library
I have not tried this yet and it is still in my brainstorming phase, but
just a thought on my part.
At my school, I am also expected to be there for the night events such as
portfolio night and conferences.  I use this time as a very special night
parents and kids in the library.  I always have a book fair during this
 Many parents bring their children and they look at the book fair while
parents go to the conferences.  Parents stop in and visit when they are
and buy books!

At the last event, I had a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the library
program running on automatic replay.  It was neat to watch people stop and
watch it.
It may be a little late, but what about using a program like PowerPoint to
create a continuously running slide show presentation about  the library.
Display it on the computer or use a presentation projector hooked to the
computer to show it on a larger screen. Maybe there are some very
computer-savvy kids who could help you do this.  It doesn't have to be a
of bells and whistles to be effective.

Part 2 of this HIT to follow...

Thanks again,

Julie Purdy
Mt. Ararat Middle School
Brunswick, Maine

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