Library outreach is experiencing a renaissance. Librarians have been reaching out to their communities and developing programming for decades, but libraries are increasingly being asked to demonstrate their value to the communities that they serve. In response, outreach positions are becoming more commonplace and communities of practice are emerging around measuring the impact of library outreach activities.
This SPEC Kit was born out of the authors’ struggles and successes in providing academic library outreach services at their local institutions. The survey questions were designed to gather information from ARL institutions to create a picture of library outreach that spans across institutions; a professional baseline. Questions of organizational priorities, vision, goals, resource allocation, staffing models, and assessment come together to paint the picture of how libraries are approaching outreach programs.
The survey was sent to the 125 ARL member institutions in July 2018, with 57 (46%) responding by the August 6 deadline. The data gathered suggests that systematic outreach programs are still very much in their infancy and highly dependent on local organizational culture.
This SPEC Kit highlights the areas where libraries share approaches to outreach programs while also shining a spotlight on issues that warrant continued research and attention by outreach librarians and library administrators.