What is library outreach? Many people think that library outreach is simply taking books to elderly patrons who are unable to get to the library building. While this certainly is one type of outreach, the variety of outreach methods and services that exist are as diverse as the library institutions that host them. Outreach can be defined as, “services for those who are infrequent users or nonusers or as services for those who are traditionally underserved” (Outreach Librarian).

Why participate in outreach? Outreach is a critical service for libraries to provide in order to promote access of library resources for all potential library users. The American Library Association’s Core Values of Librarianship includes a statement that, “all information resources that are provided directly or indirectly by the library, regardless of technology, format, or methods of delivery, should be readily, equally, and equitably accessible to all library users” (ALA). Outreach allows for library services to be readily, equally, and equitably accessible. Some populations that outreach services are traditionally targeted to include homeless people, ethnically diverse people, elderly, adult new readers, incarcerated people, people with disabilities, LGBTQA communities, and geographically isolated communities (Outreach Librarian).

Who does outreach? Outreach services can be organized and carried out by many types of staff members, from pages to a director, yet some libraries hire dedicated staff for outreach, known as outreach librarians. Outreach librarians work in all types of library settings from public institutions to academic and special libraries. Outreach librarians strive to make library services available to all people using a variety of methods from outreach storytimes to coordinating a social worker to spend time at the library.

Stay tuned for a post on outreach methods!

Resources

American Library Association (ALA)  http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/statementspols/corevalues

Outreach Librarian. http://librarycareers.drupalgardens.com/content/outreach-librarian

Written by Rachael Terry, 7/12/15.

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