SPEC Kit 312: Public Engagement (September 2009)

This SPEC Kit explores the ways in which traditional “outreach” programs in academic libraries are evolving to address the emergent concept of “public engagement” at the institutional level and the degree to which the library is integrated into campus-level efforts to promote public engagement.

By the March deadline, responses had been submitted by 56 of 123 ARL member libraries for a response rate of 46%. For the purposes of this survey, respondents were asked to report on “public engagement programs” that met the definition of those that demonstrate the library’s “commitment to community partnerships, service to professional communities outside [your] primary user groups . . . . [and that] go beyond the ‘provision of institutional resources for community use,’ and are aimed at bringing the professional expertise of the library to members of the public.” Of the 56 responding libraries, 49 (88%) reported providing such programs as part of their service profile.

Respondents identified a wide variety of programs that they characterize as “public engagement.” The top four areas of library activity reported were programs in the areas of K-12 education (80%), cultural engagement (75%), government information/e-government (68%), and lifelong learning (66%).

This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of mission statements, descriptions of library engagement programs, examples of awards program, scholarship of engagement information, and job descriptions.

Table of Contents

SPEC Kit 312: Public Engagement (September 2009)