The goal of community outreach within a library is to develop library outreach programs for non-users, the under served, and people with special needs within the community. Communities are living things; they are constantly growing and changing. To meet the diverse needs of any community, libraries must keep in touch with these changes and tailor services to meet ever-changing needs.
In addition to providing needed service to community members, community outreach programs within a library provide a unique opportunity to improve public image within a service community and offers excellent collaboration opportunities with community leaders, groups and organizations that will enhance overall library service.
A Librarian at Every Table
Librarians have an important role to play in building community in neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, states and the nation. The central focus of this website is to identify new tables at which librarians might take a place. At this site you may also sign up for the Librarian at Every Table mailing list.
The Office of Community Outreach Services for the New York Public Library
The Office of Community Outreach Services coordinates community outreach services and develops programs and collections throughout The Branch Libraries of The New York Public Library. Here you will find a wealth of information on programming ideas that have worked, resources in hard and electronic format, and links to helpful web sites to begin building a successful library community outreach program.
An Article from Ex Libris Titled Community Outreach as a Survival Strategy
This article describes the importance of community outreach within a library community and offers advice on getting started in your own community. In addition, the article offers a history of public service and why the effort of community outreach is needed in continuing library service.
Outreach Services and Activities from the Tucson-Pima Public Library
This site offers a variety of successful community outreach programs that can be adapted to your library. Services are varied and target a large range of ages and needs.
Public Librarians and Community Networkers: A Marriage Made in Cyberspace?
An article focused on community networks, community outreach, and the opportunities and advantages of improving technical opportunities within the community through the library.
American Library Association Office for Diversity
This site offers ideas for special collections and community outreach programming ideas. There is a wide range of information to meet the needs of diverse library populations. There are also links to helpful information related to community outreach in a variety of library settings.
The Community Networking Handbook, by Stephen T. Bajjaly (Chicago: ALA, 1999). Surveys the process of community networking: planning, marketing, outreach, and evaluation.
Guidelines for Establishing Community Information and Referral Services in Public Libraries (4th ed.), by Norman L. Maas and Dick Manikowski (Chicago: American Library Association, Public Library Association, 1997). Classic criteria for librarians providing information and referral services.
A Place at the Table: Participating in Community Building, by Kathleen de la Peņa McCook; foreword by Sarah Ann Long. (Chicago: American Library Association, 2000). Focuses on community development, community outreach, libraries in society, and libraries and community.
Libraries Enhance Student Learning: A Guidebook of Innovative Library Programs for Youth, by Shirley Steele and Amanda Heim. (Washington, DC : U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Educational Research and Development : For sale by the U.S. G.P.O., Supt. of Docs., 1997). Information provided on library outreach programs, technology literacy, and library education.
Foundation Resource Guide: A Compilation of Major Foundations That Sponsor Activities Relevant to Community Outreach Partnership Centers / Office of University Partnership, prepared by Kevin Nelson. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research, 1998). A resource that provides a guide to the Partnership Centers Program and development corporations.
Libraries, Community, and Technology, by Andy Barnett. Jefferson. (N.C. : McFarland & Co., 2002). This title provides information on community outreach programs, libraries in the community and library automation programs.
Libraries are Valuable-- Prove It! : Prepared for the Public Library Association Pre-Conference, July 7, 2000. (Glen E. Holt ... [et al.]. St. Louis, Mo.: St. Louis Public Library, c2000). A focus on public libraries, libraries and community, and services to business and industry.
Library Advocacy: Influencing Decision Makers (Chicago, IL: American Library Association Illinois Library Association, 1999). This brochure focuses on the need for increasingly more sophisticated legislative advocacy on behalf of libraries and the millions of people who depend on them. It is designed to help library advocates be effective in today's volatile, bottom-line oriented, and complex political environment. The techniques and messages described can be used at the local, state, and national levels
STEPS FOR GETTING STARTED
1. Determine your community needs and decide what populations you would like to develop and implement library services for. A variety of populations could be considered, including the following:
· Adult Learners and Job Seekers
· Adult New Readers
· Ethnic Populations
· Homebound Persons
· Institutionalized Persons
· Non-English Speaking Persons
· Older Adults
· Persons with Disabilities
· Persons without Homes
· Young New Readers
· Young Adult Readers
2. Develop and implement staff training; provide support and guidance in community outreach; develop special collections targeted at the populations you are wanting to serve; and plan and implement programs.
3. Research and study the populations you decide to focus on. Determine needs and what the library can do to meet these needs.
4. Develop and implement programs outside of the library. Go where your targeted populations are, do not assume that they will come to you.
5. Develop relationships with other library leaders, community leaders, educational organizations, community groups and agencies. These collaborative relationships will lead to support and ideas for new and existing programming to meet the needs of your community.
6. Be patient and consistent, the benefits of programming outside of your library walls will impact overall perception of the library in a positive way by serving unmet needs and building relationships that were not present in the past.