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Running the Outreach Marathon

August 23, 2019


One of my titles is Outreach Coordinator, and this week, I am definitely feeling it. Classes begin on Monday and I’ve just finished my sixth outreach event of the week — move in day for the new freshmen.

Outreach can definitely be a lot of work, but to me, it’s worth it to make a connection, especially with those new to campus, who may feel lost or confused. The personal touch we provide can make a huge difference to someone trying to navigate a completely new — and often pretty complicated — environment. Here are some tips for making an impact while saving your sanity.


Take some time at the end of each semester and right after each orientation period to update your materials and take stock of what you have on hand. Update PowerPoints, handouts, and order new materials if needed. Create a checklist of regular orientation events and set calendar reminders to reach out to coordinators about their events and any due dates for materials. Add those to your calendar too.


Even though I’m often the face of outreach at my library, I can’t and shouldn’t do it all. Outreach to specific programs in another colleague’s liaison area should be their domain. Create a shared document where everyone can record their outreach events. It’s easier to manage outreach when many people contribute, and your colleagues can improve connections with their constituents. At the end of the year, that shared document can help you generate an outreach report, and keep track of all the events you may not be aware of. It’s also helpful if there is turnover — you can help new employees keep track of the events they should take responsibility for.


Make sure any handouts you share are USABLE for the audience that will receive them. While it may be tempting to create one resource for simplicity, different audiences have very different needs. The most important things about the library for a part-time adjunct professor will be very different than the most important things about the library for a full-time undergraduate student who lives on campus. Think about your audience when you create each document and limit the information to what will be essential for them to know right away.


If you have to work extra or extended hours to cover outreach events, try to work with your supervisor for flextime to get a break! Outreach can be very taxing, and to best serve your campus, you need time to relax and recharge.

Happy new semester!

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