Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Getting Into the Community

picture taken by Martha Boyd
This past weekend, I was on a panel at the Dover Comic Con. The other panelists were an English teacher from a local high school (also the husband of another librarian at my school) and the new provost, who used to teach literature at my college. Our panel, "Classrooms Can Get Graphic (Novels)", was about integrating graphic novels and comics across the curriculum. It was well attended, well received, and fun. But best of all, it was a way to support and be part of the efforts of the Dover Public Library, who organizes and runs this convention. Lots of people talk about the need to build town-gown relationships, but this was us actually doing it.

The thing is, all libraries - no matter what type - need to be an active part of the community they serve. From corporate libraries hosting parties to support scientists in their R&D department to public librarians teaming up with K-12 teachers to academic libraries cooperating in events run by the nearby public library. This is more than outreach, which is of course very important. This is about supporting the efforts of other organizations and about partnerships.

Here are some of the other things we've done to make sure that this library is an active part of not just the college community, but also city and state:
  • Participate in a state-wide effort run by the Sexual Assault Network of Delaware as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 
  • Tie our book displays into on campus events, like Domestic Abuse Awareness and Disability Awareness.
  • Write reviews and actively promote the services of a therapy dog organization.

It can be hard to find time for this kind of thing when you're so focused on getting through the day to day, but it can also be highly rewarding. Being an active part of your community is more than getting patrons to come into the library; it's about getting out and working to further community goals.

How about you? What are some of the things you've done to support others in the community where you are? What are some of the things you'd like to do?


  1. We choose a local organization -- like the county Food Bank or the campus Food Pantry -- and do a library-wide donation push during our annual all-staff Inservice event.

    We also have had a number of librarians sitting on boards of local organizations and events. We currently have someone in my department on the planning committee for the public library's Sip and Spell adult spelling bee, and the library was also a sponsor for the event. We've also got some librarians working on a speaker series with the public library.

    We are just organizing book displays in our library and we've been planning to tie them to campus events and conversations - I'm glad to see that plan works well for you!

  2. You've given me some ideas for the small college library in which I am currently employed. Thank you.