It would be easy to approach outreach and marketing as something that a library does in order to increase awareness of its services and resources. And those logistical elements certainly have their place within this toolkit and among the many resources listed here. But if we are keeping with the central focus of this taskforce and the spirit of the broader movement of which it is part, it is important to frame the work we are doing as a community building/engagement opportunity rather than a PR-based one.
According to the Urban Libraries Council libraries can take a series of leadership roles to further frame how they want to approach this work as leaders in raising awareness of issues, creating forums for sharing of ideas and discussion, bringing diverse groups together, and developing a shared vision.
A few definitions:
According to Alison Gilchrist community-based outreach relies on community networks to engage in formal and informal activities. In addition, she highlights the benefits of this model to both individuals and organizations, as well as the powerful effect of strong ties and social capital can have on related areas such as collective efficacy and referrals. It should be notes that communities and contexts will vary between different types of libraries, but we hope these methods are widely applicable.
Gliedt, Parker, and Lynes (Gliedt, T., Parker, P., & Lynes, J. (2010). Strategic partnerships: Community climate change partners and resilience to funding cuts. Researching the social economy, 201-222) outline three types of partnerships that can sustain this work:
Commonly utilized methods for engaging users invariably invoke methods such as focus groups, ethnographic studies, surveys, etc. But according to Allison Carr-Chellman, this is the basis of user-centered design where something is being done to the user, rather than involving the user in the creation of their own systems (or in this case their own outreach goals and activities).
Regardless of the methodology used, the emphasis here is on its application. Design thinking, customer journey mapping, ethnographic methods and observations, and even drawing sessions can all be utilized effectively during the three stages of your outreach program. The combination of methods and processes largely depends on your institutional resources, employee time, as well as the scope of your outreach program and what your goals are, so there is no single path to take: