The communities libraries serve are becoming more diverse. In seeking to move beyond the tired label of being “just about books,” libraries must engage with these communities through outreach and engagement.
Posts Tagged ‘community outreach’
Few were surprised when the Ferguson Municipal Public Library in Ferguson, Missouri was named the 2015 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year. In an e-mail sent late last month to those who were so generous with their support of the library, Bonner provided an update on what Ferguson has been able to accomplish and where he and his staff hope to take the library in the days to come.
For the last eight years, Colbert Nembhard has volunteered his time reading to homeless children at the Crotona Inn homeless shelter in the Bronx. He believes in early literacy intervention and strives to cultivate a love of reading in children while they are young. When Nembhard is not providing programming at the Crotona Inn homeless shelter, he manages the Morrisania Branch Library of the New York Public Library. Andrew Hart interviewed Nembhard via email on December 8, 2016.
Thanks to a partnership between the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), mixed income housing developments will house small libraries.
It’s November and that means National Novel Writing Month is here again! Participating in National Novel Writing Month, or as it is more commonly known, NaNoWriMo, is a great way for public libraries to support aspiring authors.
Last month in “Pop-Up Perfection: Staging a Pop-Up Library” I discussed one of the hottest trends in public library outreach the Pop-Up Library. This month I’d like to share my own library’s experience staging our first Pop-Up.
The library’s reach isn’t limited to just its walls. The library’s reach should extend to the whole community. In a way, the whole community is part of the library: the schools, the civic groups, the offices of local politicians, the senior centers, the playgrounds, and much more.
FEATURE | Prescriptions for Joy: Librarians, Collections, and Bibliotherapy in Pediatric Hospital Settings
How many of the millions of children hospitalized each year in the United States have access to book collections during their hospital stays? How many are offered treatment plans that include bibliotherapy? Public libraries have a responsibility to know the answers to these questions pertaining to hospitalized children in their communities and also to serve these young, isolated patients.
The public library should be a place of learning, exploration, and enjoyment for children. The library should also offer parents essential resources and tools to successfully raise children. We do provide these services, and we do it very well—and absolutely should continue to do so. But we too often exclusively brand ourselves as a resource for families. In addition to visual promotions, much of our narrative is focused on families with children, from newsletter articles to local paper write-ups to board meeting talking points. Who could blame us? Those images tug at the heartstrings, and stories of kids creating a craft at a program will appeal to any mom or dad. But, in promoting this impression more than others, public libraries are, to our detriment, alienating a rising population of potential users. It’s time to modify our marketing perspectives.
The library is full of stories. Not only do we have books and tomes full of stories—both fiction and nonfiction—but by virtue of being an active community center, the library is also a place where so many stories happen. One of the most important things we can do is to listen. It’s by listening that we learn about what the community wants.
According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2014, the estimated Hispanic population is 17.4 percent of the total 319 million U.S. population.1 Not every one of those individuals who classify themselves as Hispanic or Latino speaks Spanish. However, according to a 2015 report released by the prestigious Instituto Cervantes, “The United States is now the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico.”2 The U.S. has forty-one million native speakers and eleven million who are bilingual.3 Those are some serious numbers and public libraries are at the forefront of assisting many of these Hispanics with whatever resources they have available. Many Spanish speakers go to public libraries to look for answers regarding a path to citizenship, questions about the I-90 form, services offered for Spanish speakers, and my favorite, “¿Donde tienes tus libros españoles?” (“Where do you have your Spanish books?”) Publishing companies are doing their best to cater to this large community, but answer this question: Even with more Spanish books readily available, who are the librarians assessing community needs and building these Spanish and bilingual collections? It is one thing to be a Hispanic librarian, as I am, but it is another to truly understand the Hispanic community to know how a collection should be built.
Librarians are natural problem solvers, so engaging with the community and helping to solve real-life community challenges should be an easy fit for us. And for some, it is. For others, who like the safety of the library’s four walls and the status quo of traditional library services, community outreach can be daunting. Rest assured that there are many tools and resources to help you look outward and help make your community better.
Tech mobiles are popping up in big cities as well as small, narrowing the digital divide for underserved communities. These tech mobiles offer a variety of resources including classes, Wi-Fi access, computers for the homeless to apply for jobs, opportunities for youth to mess around with technology, as well the ability for patrons to borrow Wi-Fi hotspots to take home. As the advent of technology becomes more and more a regular part of our lives and a requirement for schools, it’s imperative to provide the same opportunities for everyone in order to be able to become modern twenty-first century learners and professionals.
There are many ways to reach out to the Hispanic community. Do not underestimate the little things and do not assume the Hispanic community does not take notice.
For the last year and a half, Hartford (CT) Public Library (HPL) has participated in ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) program with the goal of strengthening its community’s relationship with the local police force. Through initiatives such as community theater and block parties, HPL has helped fill this need so clearly indicated by its residents.