Elevating the School Library: Building Positive Perceptions through Brand Behavior

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  • About the authors
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What is your school library’s brand? This book will help school librarians improve their practice and strengthen their influence within their learning communities, increasing positive perceptions of school libraries through developing a brand in alignment with the AASL Standards.

Branding isn't just for companies and celebrities. Your school library is a brand too, and this book will show you how powerful the concept of branding can be. You will learn how to use it as a tool for articulating the value and importance of the school library while also better defining and delineating to stakeholders who school librarians are and why having a school librarian matters. Complete with a list of guiding questions at the end of each chapter to help you put its concepts into practice, this book

  • includes templates, checklists, and worksheets to assist you in undertaking school library branding, a rebrand, or a brand rehabilitation;
  • offers concrete guidance and techniques for engaging effectively with your community by creating a strategic communications plan;
  • walks you through incorporating the use of data and community demographics analysis to improve your practice and thus increase positive perceptions of the impact of your work;
  • shows how to use existing AASL personas as well as how to develop additional learner personas (such as trauma-sensitive, special groups and non-users) through a brand audit;
  • presents a focused exploration of brand behavior, emphasizing the impact, influence, and integrity of brand credibility;
  • analyzes the work of Jim Collins (Good to Great), John Kotter (Our Iceberg is Melting), and others to shed light on the importance of the "business" aspects of the school library; and
  • spotlights successful and unsuccessful examples of branding from the realm of both business and libraries, connecting them to the AASL Standards.

Introduction: Why This Book?

Chapter 1    Brand or Brand Behavior?
Chapter 2    Lessons from the Business World
Chapter 3    Development of a Service Culture
Chapter 4    School Library Brand vs. Personal Brand
Chapter 5    Observation, Data, and Action
Chapter 6    Identifying and Overcoming Barriers
Chapter 7    Extreme Makeover
Chapter 8    Communications Plan


  • Appendix A: School Library Branding Persona Template
  • Appendix B: Checklist for School Libraries
  • Appendix C: Budget Framework Worksheet
  • Appendix D: Recommended Readings and Information

Works Cited
About the Authors

Susan D. Ballard

A former Director of Library, Media and Technology, Susan D. Ballard guided her district to AASL National School Library of the Year Award recognition. She has served as an adjunct professor and lecturer in various school librarian preparation programs, published numerous articles in professional and scholarly journals and edited and contributed to several books. A Past-President of AASL, the New Hampshire School Library Media Association, and the New England School Library Association, Susan served on the Standards and Guidelines Editorial Board for the National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. 

Sara Kelly Johns

Sara Kelly Johns, an online instructor at the Syracuse University iSchool and a long-time school librarian, is a past president of AASL, the New York Library Association (NYLA), and the Section of School Librarians of NYLA. She received the NYLA Lifetime Achievement Award and the first AASL Social Media Superstar Advocacy Ambassador Award. Active in ALA Council and ALA committees, Johns was a member of the Implementation Task Force for the National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. She has written articles for several school library publications and contributed chapters for various books.

"This book provides valuable issues to consider in branding and building loyalty in a school library, and useful tools to address those issues."
— Booklist

"In our ever-online, social media-driven society, discussions of brands and branding are inescapable. Ballard and Johns adroitly explain the importance and nuance of brand behavior for school libraries. Though libraries are not exclusively businesses in the traditional sense, the authors share many ideas from the business world can be adapted by school libraries in conjunction with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standards to strengthen perceptions of library programs ... Effective alignment of brand management principles and the AASL Standards, along with plenty of opportunities for reflection, make this book a valuable purchase for school library practitioners."
— School Library Journal