Outreach Librarian

What do Outreach librarians do?

In libraries, outreach is often described as services for those who are infrequent users or nonusers or as services for those who are traditionally underserved.   Outreach librarians strive to provide equitable delivery of library services to all people through the development of programs, policies, practices, and behaviors which make the library available to all people.

What kinds of people do Outreach librarians serve?

Because outreach librarians work in public, academic, government, medical, and special libraries, they serve a wide range of people.  They serve a variety of people based on the environment and the population which their library seeks to serve.  Most often, outreach librarians are focused on the traditionally underserved, including poor and homeless people, ethnically diverse people, older adults, adult new and non-readers, incarcerated people and ex-offenders, people with disabilities, GLBT populations, and rural and geographically isolated communities. 

What are working conditions like for Outreach librarians?

Outreach librarians often develop new and innovative services, so they work in dynamic and changing environments.  They often work outside the library, with different groups or in the field with specific populations.  They can have unique or variable work schedules depending on the programs they are providing. 

Are there any special characteristics a person should have if they are considering working as an Outreach librarian?

Outreach librarians are generally very people-focused, social, and passionate.  They are committed to spreading the message of the library to new audiences.  They are often creative people who think outside the box.

Are there any special skills required to work as an Outreach librarian?

Outreach librarians usually have strong communication and collaboration skills to help reach new groups and work with various organizations.  They must be skilled at quickly assessing their environment and identifying the strengths of their library and the opportunities to improve their service.  Outreach librarians must be comfortable multi-tasking since often the demand is greater than the time or staff available.   

Where can I find more information on working as an Outreach librarian?

The American Library Association's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services is a great place to find additional information.

ODLOS

ODLOS (Office for Diversity, Litearcy and Outreach Services) at ALA helps to promote library services to traditionally underserved populations, including new and non-readers, people geographically isolated, people with disabilities, rural and urban poor people, and people generally discriminated against based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, language and social class.