Instant Ideas and Collaboration

Summary – 21 Aug 2012 -Outreach and Inclusion

On 21st August, #uklibchat’s discussion was on Outreach and Inclusion. Participants discussed what they thought counted as outreach, gave real examples of outreach, and taking a ‘business’ approach to marketing. Plenty of advice was given on what to consider when starting outreach, establishing and maintaining connections being a big consideration.

Read on to find out more!

A thank-you to all the participants. We sometimes alter and combine tweets for the sake of flow, but endeavour to accurately reflect the views expressed. The searchable twitter archives  for #uklibchat contains the actual tweets.

Q1  What is outreach? Blogs? Leaving the Library? Marketing Events?

  • Do blogs count as outreach? I don’t think you can say you’re doing it just by saying ‘we have a blog’. I also think marketing is linked in some aspects, but separate. It should be more than just posters/leaflets a pen with logo. @agentk23
  • Anything where library services or promotion of library services take place outside or extend beyond the physical library? so I’d consider blogs, leaving the library and marketing events outreach. @library_lizzie
  • Does outreach mean to reach the people who can’t access to a library so easily?. Not sure about the meaning of that @rugabela
  • I would consider outreach to any library user as outreach @library_lizzie
  • To me outreach is about targeting groups by the method they prefer, directly to them, rather than customer coming to library @mrswtaylor
  • http://t.co/BXP6olcY Here’s a blog post talking about outreach in libraries. This shows that the definition of outreach is quite mutable! @agentk23
  • Is outreach also about attracting non-traditional users to library services, even if not using physical library? @kirsty_thomson
  • Think of outreach as reaching out to the community through a mix of tools, but with emphasis on physical presence in community. It should be about attracting new and non traditional user groups, making the library more accessible to encourage them in @Jigsawatwork
  • In a school, outreach is taking the library to those pupils who don’t want to use us and showing them why they should. @BishopWalshLib
    • Do you have specific outreach strategies aimed at particular groups or make all outreach relevant to all? @library_lizzie
    • We do both at different times – eg this year we had an author visit aimed just at the special needs pupils @BishopWalshLib
  • Hello! At Citizens Advice ‘outreaches’ are places where advice is offered outside bureaux (courts, doctors etc) @cmbirley
  • Real outreach would be not just taking the library to people, but letting them pick when, where and how. By talking to them, not just assuming that, as librarians, they know what people should have @artistmakers
    • yes i agree but with severe staff shortages this is going to be harder to achieve! @alan_wylie
    • It’s going to be essential; without support from a wide audience, libraries will (and should) close @artistmakers
    • think its v important to listen to and respond to needs of library users in a way like this @amycrossmenzies
    • outreach was one of the things that got sacrificed when Islington slashed staffing. @agentk23
    • yes it did to a significant extent but it’s still happening, its a great shame and short sighted @alan_wylie
  • Outreach in medical libraries often means providing info skills sessions in departments @herslantfinely

Q2 Does your library do outreach? Who do they target? (or if you know of an outreach project can talk about that too!)

  • Last year I heard about projects that encouraged school children into Cambridge college libraries. V.cool One by @Girlinthe.  @agentk23
  • Pop up libraries can be considered outreach. Where I work, we set up stalls near canteen to catch nurses/doctors/students. Pop up works, had some people sign up on the spot, and consider using our literature search services, last time I was at one  @agentk23
  • I would call this blog by our biochemistry subject librarian outreach http://t.co/utZiCnO2. Another subject librarian sends monthly emails to her department to keep them up to date with new books and available training @library_lizzie
    • Who are you trying to reach with the blog, and how do you make sure it’s reaching the target? @uklibchat
    • Trying to reach biochemistry staff and students – not sure how it’s made sure that happens as I don’t run it @libary_lizzie
  • Saw this great article in ALA magazine recently about taking ref libs into community http://t.co/ffY5EFrR @alan_wylie
  • The medical library where I work has librarians whose job title is Outreach Librarian. They go to users offices in their department to give one-to-one training, search advice, etc…@library_lizzie
  • In Islington we go the freshers fairs and business events promoting the service. Also we have made links with refugee groups and give them tours of the library etc @alan_wylie
  • Public libraries would make connections with schools, I think local lib did readings in school to encourage use of libraries? @agentk23
  • We’re a University library open to the whole community all year round – no access control barriers! We’re not unique. @liz_jolly
    • how many non academic users do you get? #uklibchat how do you let them know that it’s available to them?
    • Don’t count separately as can just walk in (don’t need to join). @liz_jolly
  • Summer reading scheme presumably an example in public libraries. Most kids coming into ours knew about it through schools. @cmbirley
  • Summer reading challenge is promoted to all schools through assemblies. @calire
  • I’m coming to the conclusion that librarians need to get familiar with many Marketing strategies @rugabela
  • We have a group of y10s doing a week long project in my uni library, hopefully will encourage them to use lib when they’re at uni @annie_bob
    • sounds like a great way to show students the value of library b4 they start at uni @amycrossmenzies
  • hi I’m a liaison librarian for SLS I encourage use of local library as well as school. VLE also great for outreach @elizabethhutch
    • sounds great, wish i’d had this cos in hindsight i didn’t have a clue!! should do this everywhere @amycrossmenzies
  • http://t.co/HaAnQxUK Quaker runs a mobile library that reaches homeless people. I think public libraries should consider this. @agentk23
    • some already do, Islington has the ‘new horizons’ project taking books etc out to local estates and hostels etc @alan_wylie
  • Outreach is also not about bricks and mortar. In HE We need to be visible in departments, schools, faculties, show our services @roogly
  • Worth looking at CILIP Libraries change lives awards for examples of public library outreach http://t.co/oZZ1IRZ7 @calire
  • We also have mobile lib. here, a number or buses (library buses) which go to remote places & boroughs without a library @rugabela
  • last week a customer saw our VOLUNTEER doing Under 5s and came in for first time in ages and is displaying his art next month… @amy_crouch

Q3  When running outreach projects, what should be considered?

  • Good relationships with local college & pub. libs. @liz_jolly
  • Firstly proper dialogue and meaningful consultation with user/nonuser groups, ask them what they want and need @alan_wylie
  • In my exp biggest barriers to outreach are staff time & trouble building/keeping good contacts w other orgs. I do a lot of work with schools & just getting to the point of talking to someone other than secretary can be v challenging @spoon_tragedy
    • yes i agree, we need to find simpler ways of doing it that are not time and staff intensive. It took me months to contact local schools and arrange visits etc, very frustrating and time consuming @alan_wylie
    • why do yo think they aren’t interested? have u had any feedback why they aren’t enthusiastic? @amycrossmenzies
  • Should consider what the library is trying to achieve and how will this work with the interests of group being targeted. Consider whether anyone else in your organisation/network has had contacts with the targeted group you can use @spoon_tragedy
  • who it’s most valuable/needed to reach. make sure it’s done in an appropriate way that those groups will embrace @amycrossmenzies
  • Should start where pupils are and make outreach relevant to their world, their interests and needs @BishopWalshLib
  • Important to consider what method(s) of communication best for reaching target audience @library_lizzie
  • Continuity. Relying on just one person, means when they leave, connections lost. Is a factor for working with homeless orgs @agentk23
  • monitoring impact of outreach is important to consider – show growth etc @mrswtaylor
    • definitely – you need to make sure outreach is working or you could be wasting your time @library_lizzie
  • Another thing to consider is whether you have the stock to satisfy the interest your outreach creates @BishopWalshLib
    • good point – stock range and correct format! @mrswtaylor
  • Fidelity is a very important concept in Marketing nowadays. How can it be applied to libraries? @rugabela
    • what do you mean by fidelity as a concept? @uklibchat
    • Now companies are very interested in retaining customers, to make them come back to their shops, services. In other words, faithful customers. That’s what I mean @rugabela
    • also to generate ‘lifetime value’ from customer, inc getting them to advocate for you (ie, recommend svcs) @NicolaFranklin
  • In medical lib, can be hard getting message to every staff level. Rely on “lib champions” a lot @herslantfinely
    • lib champions? @uklibchat
    • Not official term! Regular users who tell their staff about us. Rely on word of mouth lots. Loyal users who champion us whenever they can, some depts use us far more than others – Ortho, for e.g @herslantfinely
    • do you ask them to do that for you, or just happen to have people who do? @agentk23
    • Yep, not volunteers or recruited specifically. Enthusiastic lib supporters. Mention us in dept meetings @herslantfinely
    • Library champions as in the Team London, Merton Libraries volunteer sense? @Alan_wylie
    • By lib champion just meant some1 who would liaise with library/promote it where they were @spoontragedy
    • Or just encourage the most enthusiastic kids to “tell their friends”. Doesn’t have to be official role. @herslantfinely

Q4  What kinds of library need to do outreach?  Public, academic, health, others?

(skipped as  it’s clear all different sectors are doing outreach)

Q5 What messages, channels and tactics do libraries use to communicate?

  • We use our VLE to promote the library to the school but also our services as a SLS @elizabethhutch
  • we’ve just created a FB page for islington libs, it’s taken us years to get approval! Also looking at interactive opac! @alan_wylie
  • Some pupils follow me on Twitter! Also library website on VLE, school briefing system, assemblies, and school plasma screens @BishopWalshLibrary
  • Social Media, E-mail, Advertising, On-line services, phone @rugabela
  • pop-up libraries, twitter, facebook, blogs, going to student inductions and freshers fairs @agentk23
  • I think that a good tactic is to collaborate with other institutions in cultural programmes @rugabela
  • Ours rely on photocopied flyers in the library, not distributed, and the local paper, mainly @artistmakers
    • where I used to work. a colleague said they distributed leaflets once and that ‘it didn’t work’ so they didn’t do it again. I think it’s the wrong attitude to take. Should instead look at being more creative and better targeted! @agentk23
    • yes, that does sound rather defeatist – imagine ‘oh, tried reading a book once, didn’t like it, never again’! @artistmakers
    • Often hear lots of “we’ve tried that already” attitudes. Can be disheartening to the librarian w/ ideas! @herslantfinely
    • Very disheartening for people like me who try to get involved and bring life to local libraries!  @artistmakers
  • We’re all about Twitter and Facebook. Also planning a ‘trailer’ style film about our services that will prob go on YouTube. We’ve also considered raising awareness of what we can do for students *before* they come to uni, via Widening Participation @claredowsett
    • Our (uni) library is involved in summer schools for yr 12s. Have had positive feedback from students, hopefully it will help them if/when they start uni @library_lizzie
    • it seems more school libraries are trying to do this. We have used Birmingham uni outreach for y12 @claredowsett
  • blogs, library newsletter, website.. @amycrossmenzies
  • We rely on word of mouth & enthusiastic users, but also Trust intranet, blogs, staff inductions, marketing events @herslantfinely
  • Another good tactic would be to allow the use of rooms for meetings or offering rooms for rent @rugabela
    • that’s more income generation rather than outreach? @uklibchat
    • Don’t you think that librarians should get a bit of business perspective? @rugabela
    • maybe it would also bring people to the library who wouldn’t otherwise be there so could also be outreach? @library_lizzie
    • definitely agree, marketing strategy and planning especially. eg, understanding different ‘segments’ of ‘target market’ will have different needs + use different channels @nicolafranklin
    • I’m seeing that cultural institutions here are using more business tactics to reach people, pure Marketing!! I’m even hearing that Culture is a business but with very different characteristics comparing to “Traditional Business” Cultural intitutions in my country [Spain] are becoming more& more specialised in business tactics. Of course, there’re people reluctant because they think that this will promote inequality when accessing 2 culture  @rugabela
    • I think if we were more business like we would be able to promote the library and ourselves better. @elizabethhutch
  • Use FB, Twitter, email newsletter, blog, website as well as posters, local press etc @calire
  • All of these, but also community newsletters, working in partnership with other agencies, strong links with local press. @ouchlibrarian
  • Branding is also a good idea as it increases recognition of the library and the wide range of resources we provide. And branding enables us to differentiate ourselves from other departments in a positive way @claredowsett
  • we have gone out and asked different target groups how we can improve services to them, asked what they need. The trick is to act on what they say. If they see we’re responding they are more likely to use the service@ouchlibrarian
    • very true – pupils always delighted when we buy books they’ve suggested @BishopWalshLibrary

Q5a For those who work in pub libraries do you think pub libs make full use of different mediums?

  • Ours doesn’t – staff cutbacks and lack of social media training are barriers. @cmbirley
  • I’m on FB and Twitter, go into local village once a week physically – never seen any ‘outreach’ or marketingg from local lib 😦 How about them using posters or cards in local shop windows/notice boards (as lots of others do) to raise awareness?@nicolafranklin
  • In my public library it’s hard to pass suggestions upwards – management seem to have other priorities or maybe constrained? @cmbirley
  • Is there a reason (public esp) libs seem reluctant to learn marketing/business tactics? @rugabela
    • possibly cost! @Elizabethhutch
    • don’t think inc knowledge of how to best communicate msg needs inc cost eg; better target existing stuff. Libs have competition whether they like it or not (google, bookshops, etc) – better to know how to counter than ignore? @nicolafranklin
    • some things to do wouldn’t cost much! I think it’s partly lack of vision @agentk23
    • I agree, coupled with fear of unknown and distaste of anything that smacks of ‘commercialism’ @nicolafranklin
    • I think that the best for libraries is to work in networks, sharing resources and aims. Thousands of libraries competing would be a totally mess in society.Collaborative networks save costs.@rugabela
    • The problem here is that the top authorities are politicians!! Libraries depend on goverments. For that reason there’s a mess here ’cause the last decision is up to local/regional gov. I think libraries should be allowed to work more independently. They’re people trained to do it well @rugabela
    • Yes, but independence should also come with financial support. libraries benefit the community. @agentk23
    • Quite often we rely on external funding for services to target groups sadly @ouchlibrarian
    • libraries should be exploring these external avenues for funding! It’s a good thing. @agentk23
    • yes its great if you know who to apply to and in partnership with others @ouchlibrarian
    • so outreach should include to council too, so they understand why/how libs benefit community. @nicolafranklin
    • That was vv strong msg from the libraries futures workshops.@BenYMLee
    • and again this is about shouting about success when things work @ouchlibrarian
  • Pub libraries don’t make full use, parent organisation often wants to keep control& prohibits/constrains a lot of channels @spoontragedy

Q6 Does your library have a social inclusion policy?

  • social inclusion is at the heart of the University’s mission. it’s what we’re about so no separate policy. @liz_jolly
    • So how do you make sure you’re socially inclusive? do you think there’s anyone you’re not reaching? @uklibchat
    • we work with colleagues across the uni. & with uni. partners in the community. Always looking to learn & improve! @liz_jolly
    • it means going out and targeting groups, asking how we can improve services to them, asking what they need. @ouchlibrarian
    • I agree by working with as many colleagues as possible and marketing services widely we are being inclusive @ouchlibrarian
    • Cool. What partners/orgs do you work with? @uklibchat
    • the usual (common in post 92 unis) inc.: local councils, schools, 6th forms, colleges, NHS trusts, business, charities @liz_jolly
  • I think my local library could do more for ethnic minorities, collab with Chinese Association for example. Also, it’s hard for some groups, like the homeless. If you need to give address to become library member, you can’t join!@agentk23
  • Compared to today, Libraries 50yrs ago were exclusive institutions, now they’re learning how to become inclusive @Richardveevers

Q7 How can social media be used in outreach?

Social media useful for last minute reminders of events and training sessions. But social media shouldn’t be the only medium for any communication because not everyone uses it. @library_lizzie

Q8 How do you create/maintain successful partnerships with orgs/groups outside your library for the purposes of outreach?

  • Don’t think there are shortcuts! you need to have someone as a liaison and keep it up! @agentk23
  • Quite often we rely on external funding for services to target groups sadly @ouchlibrarian
    • but libraries should be exploring these external avenues for funding! It’s a good thing. @agentk23
  • Public authorities can sign up to 6 steps to accessible library services for blind & nominate a champion – joint SCL & STV initiative @mrswtaylor


Related Links (pulled out from discussion)

http://t.co/BXP6olcY Here’s a blog post talking about outreach in libraries. This shows that the definition of outreach is quite mutable!

http://t.co/utZiCnO2. I would call this blog by our biochemistry subject librarian outreach

 http://t.co/ffY5EFrR Saw this great article in ALA magazine recently about taking ref libs into community

http://t.co/HaAnQxUK Quaker runs a mobile library that reaches homeless people. I think public libraries should consider this

http://t.co/oZZ1IRZ7 Worth looking at CILIP Libraries change lives awards for examples of public library outreach


Blogged: Library Outreach, Advocacy & Marketing – close cousins or poles apart? http://t.co/ceEpAMHr by @nicolafranklin



About Ka-Ming

Librarian at a University in London and one of the founding members of uklibchat.wordpress.com Find me @agentk23

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This entry was posted on September 7, 2012 by in Discussion Summaries and tagged , , , , , .


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