School Library Annual Report
It’s the end of the school year and that means it’s annual report time. Or does it?
When I mentioned to a colleague this year that I needed to put together the library’s annual report, I was a little shocked by their reply – “Why bother. No one is going to read it.”
It made me reflect on why I create an annual report each year and why I firmly believe it is worth the time and effort to create an annual report.
I know my school’s leadership team will read my annual report. They might not all read it. They might not read it all. They might skim through it (it is the end of the year and a busy time of year, after all). But I know they will open it or it will at least spark recognition as it sits in their inbox. I was pleased to receive two reply emails from submitting the report to our leadership team. Both emails congratulated the team on our work and achievements this year. And one response asked for more details on the suggested future projects, which was really pleasing to see. They are interested in what we are doing.
I also share the annual report on our school website, so that any staff member, student, community member or interested school librarian could read it. That can be a little daunting. Actually, I tossed and turned about sharing it. I know my stats might not stack up compared to another school. Maybe someone will look at the report and question our direction or focus or why the school library has a budget at all. But I thought the risk worth the gains in sharing the amazing work the library team have done this year. But that’s not the only benefit of creating an annual report. Here are a few others
I love putting together an annual report as it is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the work the library has done in the year. It’s a chance to compare the goals set at the start of the year with what we have achieved. It’s a chance to look at the results of any events or direct focus. This year, I made the shift to student-driven collection development and I love that my loan statistics for physical resources have increased (despite three weeks of online learning, a delayed start to the year and a term with a tiny collection in a temporary location.) As my principal said in his email – it’s great to know it works!
Putting together an annual report is also really helpful for identify areas that might need some work or could be part of a future focus for change. My loan statistics for ebooks and audiobooks have improved this year, which I am pleased with. But the sharp increase we saw at the start of the year didn’t continue. Was this due to a drop in how much I featured these resources in lessons and on Instagram? How can I make this a focus for next year?
An ongoing record
I love that annual reports are an ongoing record of what the library has achieved. Having the stats from year to year, paints a picture and it’s really handy to have. I’ve used them in my action research, as evidence when requesting a budget or staff increase, and the report is a record of my own work for the year.
How I create an annual report
There are lots of different ways to create and format an annual report. I’ve seen lots of different types. I prefer one that is very visual, lots of pictures and charts. But I am also a bit long winded (you’d never guess, right??!!) so my reports still have a bit of writing in them. I do try to keep it short though, conscious of the limit time of those reading it.
What I include
Lots of photos
If a picture tells a 1000 words, the more photos I can include, the better. My audience is leadership, as well as staff, students and the wider community, so photos are a key part of telling the story of the year. Photos of students in the library, photos of events.
Vision and mission statements
I include our library’s vision and mission statements. This year, it meant including our brand new statements, which received good feedback from leadership. It’s also a good reminder on why we do everything we do within the library and how the results and events we are sharing reflect back on those statements and goals.
I include a reflection on the year, highlight key milestones and events.
Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a report without some statistics. Loan statistics of physical resources are easy to pull down, but can be arranged in a variety of ways. This year I decided to display them alongside the stats from the previous year, to highlight the change. I also decided to break the stats up into collections, as we saw great changes for a few collections, and term by term, as some of our terms were significantly impacted by our move into a temporary location. I also included statistics of new resource additions, digital collections, page views on our website and catalogue and social media account statistics. Next year, I’ll be able to include bookings of the library space, but wasn’t able to include them this year due to the changes in our location. I included numbers of research guides created. From next year, I’ll be able to track how many new guides we create. I’ll also try to keep a better track of how many lessons I take – I had the data, just didn’t have enough time to count it and include it this year.
I include a few event highlights from the year and more photos. We do so many things each year in the school library, it can be hard to remember them all. A quick round up is good for my memory, records and sharing with stakeholders.
What’s to come
My final page includes a few points about the focus of the year to come and the future direction of the library. This probably isn’t necessary in a report that is looking backwards, but I like to join the dots on what’s happened in the year and what we plan to do next.
Finally, I include links to our website and social media. I did plan to include a QR code to a blog post, video or gallery with more photos, but will have to save that for a year when I have more time.
Not sure where to start? I use Canva to create my report. Here’s a template to get you started. You don’t have to use all the pages – in fact, shorter is better. I admire those who can create a 1 or 2 page document! Take it and make it your own.
I email my report to the leadership team in the school. This year I forgot to include two key leaders (big oops!!), so I am lucky that I also cc my incredible library team. They help put the report together and edit it before it is sent, so it’s only fair to include them in the outgoing email. Fortunately, one of them noticed I’d missed a few key players and forwarded the report on. I also share my report on our library website. This, quite honestly, is terrifying. What if someone has an issue with what we are spending our budget on? What if another school librarian sees our stats and how much we are struggling to get students reading? I hope the benefits outweigh these risks and hope it helps to share the wins we have had.
I also share a few stats on our school’s Instagram account, graphics of our top ten loans and pictures of the events of the year.
And finally here’s the bit you probably wanted me to put at the top. The link to my report. You’ll find it here.
What do you include in your annual report? Do you create one? Who do you share it with?