Defining Power Users for Library Marketing

Libraries have a lot of unique users who come to use the library for a myriad of different reasons. Trying to cater to all of these types often dilute the marketing efforts that libraries engage in by trying to encompass all possible users. However, there are users who engage heavily with library programs and use the library more than average users often taking advantage of many areas of library services, whether it be class offerings, special collections or free Wi-Fi. These heavy users are power users and they are key to advancing library marketing in a definite direction.

Does your library know who its power users are? Do you know what they want and need from your library? One key aspect no matter what business you are in, is finding out who uses your services most. Targeting your market strategies to these core “brand evangelists” will be the number one reason your libraries will remain viable to their user community. How do libraries create “great” experiences that make people want to rave about them?

Libraries by nature strive to be everything to everyone, it is the very basis of their nature. However, the typical public library user base is too differentiated to effectively market to the needs of all its users. Analyzing library power users and getting into the reasons why these people use the library and how their experience can be enhanced is extremely important.

Gathering information on users is a sensitive issue that libraries have to deal with very carefully. Statistical dashboards give insight into user tendencies but don’t allow for targeted marketing to core groups. Unique wireless device visits might be up this year but what do you know about the person who use the wireless? Getting into the mind of library users is needed to understand the needs of the users. When were you last asked in a library, “How can I help you today?” My library has no idea of what I would like them to be because they have never asked.

Maybe users could benefit from specific class offerings or strategic partnerships with other businesses. My library has a steady relationship with our local SCORE chapter that holds classes every week on a different subject. There are experts amongst their patrons but they are unable to tap into that because of privacy concerns. My library should be able to tell that nearly every single time I go through the checkout station my books are baking or cooking related. There should be some way for them to inquire about my interest in a particular subject matter.

Possibly as a professional in a field I might be interested in leading a class at the library. By partnering with other businesses in the community it would allow added exposure for the business and bring in more patronage to the library. If I own a catering business and was able to use space in the library to hold a class it would provide my business advertising and exposure through the libraries media channels and I could use materials found in the library to showcase offerings that might not otherwise get utilized or known about. Written by Ian Richardson

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LibraryBox for Marketing to Library Users

Without exception, catering to the mobile user is near the top of every marketing prognosticators must do list for businesses in 2015. Getting your product in front of customers and get them engaged is a major objective for all marketing departments. Social media outlets are great for getting a library’s message out to users but for these methods to be effective they require constant attention by supplying users with exceptional content. Even though they value their local library and would like to frequent it oftentimes people don’t have the ability to reach a library branch or can carve out the time to frequent it and use its services.

LibraryBox can help solve the problem of reaching users where they are and offering library material directly to their mobile device. What is LibraryBox? In his own words, Jason Griffey on LibraryBox describes it as, “an open source, portable digital file distribution tool based on inexpensive hardware that enables delivery of educational, healthcare, and other vital information to individuals off the grid.” Using open source software he has designed a pretty inexpensive tool that libraries can use to front load content from the library and place it nearly anywhere users might come in contact with the signal. When in range of a transmitting LibraryBox a notification shows that allows for connection to the router.

This can be a great way to get useful library content to users where they frequent when not at the library. Partner with a business at a mall or busy restaurant and have content available to patrons wherever they are. Right next door to my library is a wood fired pizza and microbrewery that my family stops at after we make our once a month pilgrimage to our library. We live about forty minutes away so when we go we load up for the long haul. But we also take the opportunity to frequent one of our favorite eating spots.

We are always met with stares as the three of us order then sit in a corner reading our newly begotten material. My ten year old daughter gets the most looks, mostly from other children who look suspiciously over their devices at her actually reading books. But what if those other parents could connect their kid’s devices to a LibraryBox in the restaurant that would not only entertain them while they are out but also provide educational and safe material from the library.

Think of LibraryBox as a digital bookmobile that doesn’t need the time or cost expenditure of traditional methods of marketing to users outside of the library. The Starbucks or other coffee shops where the patrons go to read their eBooks from the library because they offer drinks and eats is another possibility for reminding users of what your library offers. The LibraryBox Wi-Fi signal will show up alongside any other available networks and when accessed could even give a gentle reminder of the free Wi-Fi available at the local library.

One of the great features of LibraryBox is that all the code is open source so it can be modified to allow for each library to change how it functions to meet its particular needs. Below are links to some sites that have really dug into using LibraryBox. Written by Ian Richardson

https://vibrantoutlook.wordpress.com/tag/librarybox/

http://www.lakeforestlibrary.org/about-the-library/user-guides.html?layout=edit&id=327

Marketing for Libraries and more with LIS Skills

As noted in an earlier blog post, libraries need marketing to promote awareness of library resources and services. I would take this one step further and say that the goal, in addition to promote, is to match library users with services. Marketing is “the science of discovering what people loved about your product and of engendering love if none previously existed.”[1] Not only that, but marketing, when done right, is a science of speed and precision.

Speed, is more of a factor now in marketing because of the rise of social media. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is all too familiar with the speed at which a social media can cause a movement. [2] A positive example of the speed of social media was how nonprofits used social media to mobilize rescue efforts and to support the community after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti. However, in addition to speed, precision is equality important in effective marketing.

With the internet and digital technology it is easier than ever to publish information. While this has many benefits for information scientist, some marketers see this explosion of information as a problem because it is more produces more noise they need to cut through to get their message across. “People see more than 34 billion bits of information per day – an equivalent of 2 books a day online.”[3] This is important because when “information overload” occurs “a reduction in decision quality” is likely.[4]

Marketers no longer have the time or broadband to blanket channels with one message, and wait for feedback. Fortunately, the same data explosion that is causing this noise, with the appropriate skills, can build targeted intervention to deliver at appropriate speeds.

Jodie Sangster, chief executive of the Association of Data Driven Marketing and Advertising, also expresses her concerns for massive amounts of data, “Marketers are struggling to cope with the explosion of customer data more than ever with the problem exposing the acute skills shortage in the industry.” To bridge this gap, marketers are turning to Information Science (IS) skills.

With IS skills, marketers can extract the predicting buying patterns of customers and responding to their needs with personalized content. These skills with monitoring applications like Sprinklr, help marketers “identify and prioritize leads at every stage of the buying cycle and provide real-time insights to help tailor outreach.”[5]

I am not saying IS skills alone will solve the marketing problems of the future, for libraries, or any industry. Just as gut decisions for marketers isn’t good enough anymore, data alone doesn’t tell the story that marketers need. The data isn’t even useful information until taken in the right context. Knowing which metrics to use is also an important.[6] The collaboration between marketer and IS professional that Sangster works to build is critical at this step of transitioning data to information to insights to plan.

Sure, when used appropriately this information can provide consumers with fast, relevant service; however, there are risks. This goes into the scope of another post, however it is important to bring up now even if briefly.

Most of the tactics used to gain consumer information is hidden deceitful. As a quick example, marketers can put “pixels” in digital ads to collect information as you browse and without warning. There is an invasion of privacy here. Marketer researchers usually argue that the free market will decide which companies respect consumer privacy. However, because the methods for collecting and data collected are not always clear, consumers of the free market don’t get enough information to make an informed decision.

The main way to address these concerns is to maximize transparency and choice so that consumers can make informed decisions from a variety of choices.[7] Another way is to standardize the information collected so that there is a unified approach to protecting those pieces appropriately. Supply chain contracts could also be standard to help keep the data used appropriately and tracked for auditing.

As other post in this blog show, libraries of all types will need to market an event or service. Hopefully this post highlights some reasons and ways LIS skills are being called up to support marketers. Written by Thomas Garcia, 7/12/15

Resources

[1] “The Science Of Marketing.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web.

[2] “How Susan G. Komen For The Cure Torpedoed Its Brand.” Fast Company. N.p., 03 Feb. 2012. Web.

[3] https://blog.kissmetrics.com/information-explosion/

[4] Speier, Cheri; Valacich, Joseph. Vessey, Iris (1999). “The Influence of Task Interruption on Individual Decision Making: An Information Overload Perspective”. Decision Sciences 30.

[5] “Want Big Data to Help Your Marketing Team? Hire a Data Scientist.” Entrepreneur. N.p., 26 June 2015. Web.

[6] “Marketers Need Insights Artists, Not Data Scientists | AdExchanger.” AdExchanger ICal. N.p., 14 Apr. 2015. Web.

[7] http://www.acxiom.com/big-data-analytics-ethical-framework-marketing/

Publicizing and Marketing your School Library

The school library; a place the students visit weekly for class or book checkout, and a place many parents only see 2-3 times a year at conferences and open house. As a school librarian, how do you market and publicize your space? Why do you need to market and publicize your school library? If you are interested in any of these topics, this is the blog for you.

The majority of school districts have a web-site. Within that site, individual schools in the district also have a link. It is an important communication tool for schools to share information with parents and the community. While many parents visit the school websites, how many venture over to the library dedicated page? The answer is found in another question. Have you given parents a reason to visit your school library page?

How do you market your school library? I would suggest focusing on web programs and tools that the majority of your parents already have accounts for, and access to. Facebook and Twitter are two social media accounts that many parents are already engaged with on a daily basis. Getting them to follow your library is then “only a click away.”

Why do you need to market and publicize your school library? Parents want to know what their kids are doing in school. A school library website, or Facebook/Twitter account is an excellent way to keep parents informed, and promote the great things happening in the school library. District and school websites keep parents up to date on the formalities. Try focusing your website or social media account on students work or thinking. According to an article published in the Educational Digest by Raven Padgett “Visitors want quick, easy access. The easier to navigate, the more likely they will return.” Post pictures with short captions to help explain what the students are doing.

Another reason to have a school library website is to strengthen the bond between school and home environments. According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive in 2007, kids between the ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 44.5 hours/week in front of screens. According to a 2010 Kaiser Family report, “8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).” What are kids viewing for over 7 hours a day? Having a safe place for your students to visit is essential. School library websites can provide students with safe links for approved educational sites. Yes, students can just “Google” the site they are looking for, but a forgetful memory, or misplaced letters here and there may not send students to the sites they were using in class, causing the students to become frustrated. The students will also be more apt to use the sites they are learning about in school, if it is easy for them to have access at home. Having an up-to-date school library website will also give parents piece of mind that there children are visiting safe, school approved sites.

The final reason you need to market and publicize your space is for community support. By marketing your library, you are in control of what parents and community members are seeing. It gives you the chance to focus on the positives. A quick search of any local newspaper will usually provide something happening within the school district. Many of these stories can be less than flattering. By marketing and publicizing what is happening in your library it gives you all the control. You are able to focus and showcase all of the positive things, instead of what the paper chooses to publish in a “click driven” media environment. Community support also involves funding possibilities. It is no secret that school funding has tightened over the years. As budgets tighten, how do you still provide your students with new books, technology, and other tools for learning? According to Intuit Turbo Tax, “The IRS allows you to claim a deduction for the donations you make to qualified organizations. These organizations include more than just charities and will include any school district program that does not operate for profit and is solely supported by state and local governments.” Marketing and publicizing your school library gives you a chance to connect with community members that may be able to provide you with monetary donations for new resources.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the “how’s” and “why’s” of publicizing and marketing your school library. Do you have ideas or ways that you are marketing and publicizing your school library? Please share those ideas in the comments section for further discussion. I look forward to discussing school libraries with everyone. Written by Dan Dabrowski, 7/12/15

Resources:

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
http://kff.org/other/event/generation-m2-media-in-the-lives-of/

IKeepSafe
http://ikeepsafe.org/be-a-pro/balance/too-much-time-online/

Using school websites to support parent engagement Piper, Tracy Leadership; Nov/Dec 2012; 42, 2; ProQuest Research Library pg. 36

Turbo Tax
https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/General-Tax-Tips/Are-Contributions-to-School-District-Programs-Tax-Deductible-/INF14346.html

Bikes, Books, and Booths! Outreach Methods for Community Building

Outreach doesn’t have to be difficult, stressful, and complicated. Outreach can be as simple and fun as riding a bookmobile around the community or participating in a parade. One popular method of outreach, that gets books to community members who may not be able to get to the library building, is bookmobile service! Bookmobiles come in many formats, from large vans, trucks, bikes, or even small carts of books. Bookmobiles and direct-delivery outreach has been a popular method for over 100 years. The first bookmobile was pioneered by Mary Titcomb and consisted of a horse drawn wagon that sent boxes of books to nearby stores and post offices (PBS). Bookmobile outreach is such a popular and celebrated method of outreach that ALA helps to coordinate National Bookmobile Day. This year National Bookmobile Day was on April 15th. Depending on the library institution that hosts the bookmobile, the vehicle, bike, or cart can be stocked with items for checkout, items to purchase, or donated items that patrons can keep. Librarians can also stock informational fliers about their other collections, services, and programs in their bookmobiles to hand out to patrons who may not be aware of all that libraries can offer. This type of outreach allows for patrons who may not be aware of the library, or who may be homebound, to have access to books, resources, and the knowledge of a librarian. This direct service outreach also allows for homebound patrons to develop relationships with library staff that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

Along with bookmobiles, there are other ways for libraries to engage directly with their communities. One such method for libraries to interact with the community and bring books and knowledge of library resources is for libraries to engage in community events. Libraries can build floats to be part of local parades and set up booths at community events like festivals and farmer’s markets. I have personally represented my public library in at least a half a dozen parades and it is one of the greatest feelings to hear the kids calling out your name and the library’s name. Building a presence in the community, outside of the physical library building, allows for the community to see that the library is a committed and important resource.

Librarians can also host outreach storytimes at local daycares. Not only will the children at the local daycares be entertained and benefit from the early literacy skills that storytimes develop, but the librarian will be able to explain to the daycare workers and children all of the resources and programs that are age appropriate and available to them at the library. Abby Johnson explains that, “librarians know why people should use the library. Everyone else (and this includes teachers, parents, and kids) has to be convinced that we have something for them. If you want to promote the library, a face-to-face connection is worth a thousand press releases.” This statement demonstrates how important it is for libraries to engage in outreach and storytimes at local daycares and schools. Outreach is a great way to show community members exactly what the library has to offer them!

Resources

ALA. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/diversity/outreachtounderservedpopulations/bookmobiles

Johnson, Abby. http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2011/11/18/reach-out-through-outreach/

PBS. http://www.pbs.org/pov/biblioburro/bookmobile.php

Written by Rachael Terry, 7/12/15.

“A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library”: Academic Libraries and Brand Love

If you look up the term “branding” in Entrepreneur’s online Small Business Encyclopedia, you’ll read a striking definition: “Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer.”

From a consumer standpoint, this makes a lot of sense. Every time I purchase a can of Coke, for instance, I know exactly what I will be getting – a soft drink that’s cheap, caffeinated, fizzy, and full of sugar. I know it will always have that distinctive Coke taste. This is the promise of the Coke brand, and any time I crave a soft drink, I know I can purchase a Coke and be instantly satisfied. I grew up drinking Coke, so I have plenty of nostalgic associations with this product. To this day, my soft drink of choice is a can of Coca-Cola Classic.

This isn’t a coincidence. This is the result of prolonged strategic branding, operating at its finest.

If the end-game in marketing is consumer satisfaction (Koontz 7), the goal of branding is building recognition of the products designed to satisfy consumer needs. For libraries of all types, this translates into the perceived value of the services they provide. Marketing, as Laura Saunders has observed, is “identified as a key element of strategic plans, as a way to promote awareness of library resources and services” (Saunders 286). For libraries, marketing conveys tactical messages to the community, whether it’s the promotion of programs or increasing access, and it communicates the library’s mission to current and potential patrons. Branding, however, is the current that flows beneath any marketing strategy; it’s what sticks in the consumer’s mind, James Heaton notes, and expresses the essential characteristics and value of a particular product or organization (Heaton).

When it comes to their branding, I think academic libraries have cause for concern. According to an OCLC report, there is a declining number of students who believe they have reason to visit their library, or that the library has any relevance whatsoever in their lives (Dewan 309). 66 percent of those students polled acquired reading materials from bookstores, while 94 percent conducted their research via search engines (Dewan 310). With gate counts and circulation numbers down, and the value of an expensive college education itself under question, it’s essential that academic libraries build up their perceived value, and make a concerted, strategic effort to inspire brand advocates.

Many academic libraries are aware of students’ misconceptions about the library’s relevance, and have been taking strategic measures to enhance their image – and thereby drawing more patrons through the door. Cafes and group collaboration spaces are becoming standard features. The college library in which I work has eliminated overdue fines, a trend towards creating a friendly atmosphere that other college and university libraries have embraced. We have also greatly expanded our DVD and audiobook browsing collections, and installed a gallery space, in which local artists exhibit their work.

While paying more attention to the user experience has been a big step in the right direction for most academic libraries, it is also important to focus on transforming library patrons into brand advocates. Word-of-mouth marketing is an immensely powerful marketing strategy, and with the ubiquity of social media in our culture, it is more powerful than ever before (Singh 27).

So, how can brand advocacy – and even brand love – be built?

In her editorial on brand love for libraries, Susan Starr characterizes brand love as “a feeling of emotional connectedness and bonding with the brand, a deep integration of the brand with a consumer’s core values” (Starr 168). Likewise, Rajesh Singh has written that “for people to feel the desire to advocate for a brand, they must be affected on an emotional level” (Singh 27). Emotional connection, then, is the key to building a patron’s love for the library brand.

The question then becomes, how do academic libraries create emotional connections with their users?

In order to do this, I would argue that academic libraries can do two things. Firstly, they could take a page or two out of public libraries’ book, and design campaign strategies that ignite their patrons’ passions. The “Geek the Library” campaign to promote awareness and advocacy is a brilliant way to engage users at a primary level. The tagline “what do you geek?” tells a story of identity and the quest for knowledge. It translates to: “where do your passions lie?” At once playful and challenging, the question draws you in, and poses an opportunity for self-reflection. And, most importantly, it establishes the library as the place where your passion is not only welcome, but actively nurtured.

Secondly, they can build brand advocates in the wider community, using tools like social media to build lasting connections. While the vast topic of social media and libraries is beyond the scope of this particular blog, I will say that the targeted and engaging use of social media platforms like Twitter have proven successful for libraries like the Montana State University Library, who grew their student user community by 366 percent by transforming their Twitter feed from automated and bland to interactive and “personality rich” (Young 32).

Based on a recent conversation I had with a librarian at a private liberal arts college, I gathered that many libraries at small, private colleges receive a lot of financial support from generous alumni and emeritus faculty. While this base of satisfied customers have stayed loyal to their library’s brand, this raises the question of how to grow this brand love in the wider community? Alumni and retired faculty have ties to the library that those who never attended the college will never share. Additionally, how can more students and community members be engaged both online and offline? And how can libraries meld the online and offline interactions of patrons into one satisfying experience?

One possible answer to these questions lies in what Scott W.H. Young and Doralyn Rossmann call “social media interactivity” – that is, utilizing online social media to draw offline people together in an information-sharing community (Young 22). For a successful example of this, we can turn to Edmonton Public Library’s website. There, patrons can write and post reviews of the materials they have checked out from the library. In this way, they are engaging not just with library staff, but with their fellow patrons. By giving patrons a feeling of having an impact on and a stake in the library’s collections and services, and by helping connect patrons in the wider community, the library can build strong brand advocacy and strengthen the community as a whole.

Christine Whitney, 07/12/2015

Resources

Dewan, Pauline. “Reading Matters in the Academic Library: Taking the Lead from Public Librarians.” Reference & User Services Quarterly. 52.4 (2013): 309-19. Web. Academic OneFile. 28 June 2015.

Foote, Shelby. Quotes. Goodreads. 2015. Web. 08 July 2015. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/126013-a-university-is-just-a-group-of-buildings-gathered-around

Heaton, James. “The Difference between Marketing and Branding.” Tronvig Group. 2015. Web. 09 July 2015. http://www.tronviggroup.com/the-difference-between-marketing-and-branding/

Koontz, Christie. “Marketing – The Driving Force of Your Library.” The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. 77-86.

Saunders, Laura. “Academic Libraries’ Strategic Plans: Top Trends and Under-Recognized Areas.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship. 41 (2015): 285-91. Web. Academic OneFile. 23 June 2015.

Singh, Rajesh. “Engaging Your Library Community through Effective Brand Advocacy: STEPPS to Success.” Feliciter. 60.3 (June 2014): 27-9. Web. Academic OneFile. 08 July 2015.

Starr, Susan. “Creating brand love for libraries: can we be a kind of paradise?” Journal of the American Medical Library Association. 101.3 (July 2013): 168-70. Web. Academic OneFile. 08 July 2015.

Young, Scott W.H. and Doralyn Rossmann. “Building Library Community through Social Media.” Information Technology and Libraries. 34.1 (Mar 2015): 20-37. Web. Academic Search Premier. 23 June 2015.

Outreach Methods for Inmates, Homeless, and the Economically Disadvantaged

Since outreach accomplishes a variety of goals, including allowing people to access services that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to and allowing people to learn about what services the library provides, there are a variety of methods that outreach librarians use, in a variety of settings, to accomplish such goals.

Prison outreach. Many librarians put their outreach skills to use in a prison setting. Librarians can perform outreach in a multitude of ways within prisons and for inmates. Some librarians gather books to deliver to inmates, others volunteer at prison libraries, and others participate in teaching information literacy to inmates enrolled in college-credit programs. Anna Garcia, an outreach librarian who works in a prison setting, explains that, “offering our skills and services to inmates benefits so many stakeholders. It benefits inmates…it benefits the families and friends of inmates. It can benefit society when we contribute to reducing recidivism through education for inmates. This is not pie-in-the-sky, Pollyanna wishing; this is a real contribution to bettering the world.” Not only have individual librarians discovered the benefits of providing outreach to prison populations, ALA also supports outreach efforts aimed at inmates. ALA policy 8.2 states, “The American Library Association encourages public libraries and systems to extend their services to residents of jails and other detention facilities within their taxing areas.” For those who want to learn more about how to administer outreach to prison populations and how to get started please refer to ALA’s prison libraries resources page, which can be found at http://www.ala.org/tools/prison-libraries.

Poor and homeless outreach. People that are experiencing poverty and homelessness make up a significant portion of public library users, especially at urban libraries. These patrons may use the library for various reasons including shelter, entertainment, to socialize, or as a place to access technology and the Internet. Yet many of these people may not know about the full range of services that many public libraries offer, or they may not know how to use the resources in the library. This is where outreach comes in. Many librarians are able to connect homeless or economically disadvantaged patrons with the information and resources that they need to find employment and housing. This can be as simple as librarians handing out 2-1-1 cards, in and outside of the library, or as in depth as a library hiring a social worker to directly connect people with housing, employment, medical, and psychological resources. Jenna Nemec-Loise explains that, “as public library professionals, we do our best to serve whomever walks through our doors as ably and as knowledgeably as we can…but despite our very best intentions, we can’t always work our magic. Homeless patrons sometimes need more immediate, skilled, or complex assistance than what we can provide during a single library visit.” In these cases social workers or psychologists would be more apt to serve such patrons. In 2009, the nation’s first full-time library social worker, Leah Esguerra, was hired at San Francisco’s main public library branch. Leah provides information about where people can access free meals, temporary shelters, and legal aid. She is fully trained as a social worker and a psychiatrist which means that patrons have access to a person who has the knowledge, experience and training to help them with their specific issues, something that a regular librarian may not be able to do. Since Leah was hired as the first library social worker, many other urban libraries have followed suit including the D.C. Public Library.

Many homeless, mentally ill, battered women, and youth patrons need access to health services as well as social work services. The public libraries in Tucson Arizona have acknowledged this need and hired the nation’s first registered nurses to work inside their libraries. These library nurses may do anything from checking patrons’ blood pressure to helping parents arrange medical appointments for their children. Having library nurses is a great way for patrons to learn about various health care facilities and low-cost options that regular librarians may not be aware of.

Many smaller or rural public libraries do not have the funding or resources necessary to help inmates or homeless populations in the ways described above. Yet smaller scale libraries can still make a difference for these patrons.

Another approach to homeless outreach involves libraries, in cold climates, that provide donation bins. Patrons can leave warm hats, mittens, and coats in the donation bins and other patrons that need them can take them for free, or the library will take the donation bin to local shelters. This simple act of outreach could mean a world of difference to someone who may have to spend the night outside during the winter. This is just a small taste of the ways that libraries can perform outreach to help inmates, homeless, and economically disadvantaged patrons. For more sources on this type of outreach please see ALA’s outreach resources for services to the poor and homeless page, which can be found here http://www.ala.org/advocacy/diversity/outreachtounderservedpopulations/servicespoor.

Resources

ALA. http://www.ala.org/tools/prison-libraries

Garcia, Anna. http://theoutreachlibrarian.com/2015/06/03/outreach-to-the-incarcerated-practical-considerations/

Kim, Eun. http://www.today.com/news/more-just-books-arizona-libraries-add-public-health-nurses-1C9122592

Nemec-Loise, Jenna. http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2014/09/a-little-extra-help-why-public-libraries-need-social-workers/

PBS. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/library-social-worker-helps-homeless-seeking-quiet-refuge/

Written by Rachael Terry, 7/12/15.

The What, Why, and Who of Outreach!

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.