Back to School Outreach

Summer reading is coming to an end, and school is starting up soon. In fact, where I live, some schools start next week!  As we transition into fall, the start of a new semester gives librarians ample opportunities to reach out beyond our typical users and let non or infrequent users know about our programs and services.  Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years.

Overwhelmed by: Outreach to Migrant Communities

Outreach to underserved communities is an overwhelming endeavor. Our committee does not want to make it look easy because it truly is not. However, we truly believe that all library staff can do this type of work with the right tools and support. This is why one of our focuses this year is to bridge the gap between tangible resources (like our existing toolkits) and how to get started. Melody Leung and Marika Jeffrey wrote an article in this summer’s issue of  Children and Libraries with some guiding questions to help evaluate your community, develop fruitful partnerships, and implement programs and outreach with specific communities in mind.  Guiding questions can be helpful but specific examples might help bring those concepts to life. Here is a specific example about reaching out to a migrant community: Getting Started  Four years ago, I started working in a rural community in Washington State. To…

No- and Low-Tech Backpacks as Outreach

In summer 2019, the Children and Technology committee wrote about bridging the digital divide with circulating tech.  Current events have forced us to evaluate our resources, services, and access. In times of change and uncertainty, libraries connect families with resources and experiences they may not otherwise have. In addition to virtual programs, libraries must connect with families without the time or ability to connect online. One way to do this is providing prepackaged, circulating materials like backpacks and kits. Serving Underserved Populations The Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee is devoting the 2020-2021 calendar year to creating a vibrant, dynamic toolkit that provides ALSC members with up-to-date resources for working with marginalized populations.  So far, we’ve focused on: Children with autism and sensory processing disorders Families experiencing financial insecurity and homelessness Spanish speaking populations, and Access to technology Today, we’d like to share how backpacks and kits…

Outreach Programming in Urban Libraries

  An important aspect of every librarian’s job is outreach.  Engaging with our neighborhood daycares, preschools, and schools is a wonderful way to share the joy of reading, engage our youth, model early literacy to teachers, and promote our libraries.  My library branch reaches over 300 students a month through outreach, which ranges from the traditional story time to curriculum based programs selected by teachers. Our traditional story time outreach is similar to other libraries and includes books, songs, story boards, movements and finger plays.  An additional part of our outreach that’s received positive feedback is the accompanying craft.  Every story time outreach includes a craft and the materials needed to make the craft.  Included with the craft materials is an activity sheet (one per child) with a picture of the completed craft and step by step instructions on how to complete the craft.  The activity sheets also includes the…

Digital Outreach and Family Literacy: Children’s Programming in the Time of COVID-19

Over the last five years, there has been an increased awareness of the importance of digital resources and accessibility. In 2015, the New York Public Library began loaning hotspots, and just this past December, Library Journal published an article about how to better promote digital resources because many patrons are unaware they exist. As many libraries across the country have shut their physical doors in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, these e-resources have become even more vital, as has the concept of family literacy. One of the main questions this raises is how can we best continue to serve children and families at this time?   In addition to promoting digital resources like e-books, a vast number of children’s librarians have begun doing virtual storytimes through their library’s social media accounts. In order to determine how effective these practices are, we can turn to O’Connor’s 2017 study Sociocultural Early Literacy Practices…

Incorporating Intellectual Freedom into Outreach

Incorporating intellectual freedom into outreach in a fun and engaging manner is an essential component of bringing our core values into the community, and bringing the library beyond its physical borders. Some of the tips listed below can be applied broadly to all types of outreach and communication/collaboration with outside agencies and organizations.