Outreach simply means reaching out to your community. You don’t have to leave your desk to connect with the community – but it helps. You don’t need a bookmobile or a vehicle. You don’t even need to be a librarian. I have learned firsthand from some of my patrons – it is up to us to help our community. But being a librarian, I have tools and resources that could help.
Outreach is a part of library work – no matter if you are a public, school, academic, or special librarian. It doesn’t matter if you work in a small town or a large city. If you are a librarian, you are there to help your community – of adults, kids, seniors, workers, farmers, etc.
What do I love about Outreach Services? Glad you asked!
- I learn about the people and businesses I serve.
- I listen to what people need and want.
- I respond to what people need and want through what the library can provide.
Currently I manage a department where our main goal is to reach the older adult community. I love the story sharing and comments from seniors – they keep it real! We bring more than books – we bring fun and help. We bring the library to the community and we are appreciated. I enjoy going to work every day. I look forward to seeing our patrons, talking about books and programs, helping them with technology questions, and hearing about the adventures they have had since I last saw them. Though it’s a lot of physical work, I know I am filling a great need in the community.
There are so many library resources for outreach services. OLOS (ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services) has a lot of resources. Partner with local groups, park districts, and businesses. Join an email listserve or a Facebook page. Get involved in your community.
Become a member of ABOS (Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services). ABOS, an affiliated organization of ALA, has an annual conference. This year’s conference “Outreach Services – Not So Hidden Treasures” will be October 14-16, 2015 in St. Charles, IL. If you are involved in outreach, in any capacity, this is an awesome annual conference.
Join a local outreach group to network and share ideas. In the Chicago suburbs, there is a great networking group of outreach librarians B’LONG: Bookmobile & Library Outreach Networking Group.
Here are just a few amazing outreach stories:
Lobby Stops: White Oak Library District in Crest Hill, Lockport, & Romeoville Illinois
Traditional Bookmobile on-a-budget: Paulding County Library in Ohio
Home Delivery Service: Hennepin County Library in Minnesota
Book Bike: Oak Park Public Library in Illinois
Libraries Connecting With Social Workers
Helping the Homeless Through Partnerships
Human Library – Breaking Down Barriers: Toronto Public Library
Comicopolis: Great Example of Library Partnerships
Nuno Marcal: Outreach Librarian Exploring Outreach Services Worldwide
~I’m here to help