7 SPEC Kit 361: Outreach and Engagement outreach responsibilities in other positions, including dedicated outreach librarian positions, outreach staff, marketing positions, and public services staff positions. Finally, fewer than half of respondents (26, or 48%) indicated that outreach was included in library administrative positions. Write-in comments showed that outreach can also be found in library communication positions and marketing positions. Furthermore, most respondents (47, or 84%) indicated that library employees were evaluated on outreach activities. How and to what extent these evaluations took place varied greatly by position description. If the individual had outreach specifically defined in their position description, the comments indicated that they would be more likely to be held accountable to specific goals and metrics. Even with positions dedicated to outreach, many libraries still must engage employees from across departments to provide sufficient staffing for outreach events. These events can take considerable staff time. Forty-eight respondents described how their libraries recruited staff from across the library for outreach and how they ensured supervisor support and approval. There were consistent themes in many of the responses. The majority reported that the staffing of outreach events was done on a voluntary basis by library employees. In addition, staff volunteers often had to seek supervisory approval to use their time to staff outreach events, while in other cases the event organizer would have to seek supervisory approval. Email was the most frequently used method for soliciting staff, with a few respondents mentioning internal newsletters and staff meetings as another venue to solicit participation. Less than a quarter of the comments included mention of administrative support for staffing outreach events, which took the form of assigning staff to events, writing emails of support from library administration, and ensuring credit for staffing outreach in annual evaluations. Additionally, respondents were asked to indicate how often their library faced specific staffing challenges in a typical year. Many respondents reported that they were not experiencing difficulties related to staffing. However, the write-in comments indicated that they had difficulty answering the question because outreach was not centrally organized in their library so they had no way to quantify staffing difficulties. When issues did occur, the three that occurred most often were difficulty staffing evening and weekend events, soliciting staff to work events, and staff time to participate. The data indicated that while staffing outreach may not be an issue for some libraries, it is a significant barrier to others. In fact, seven institutions (13%) indicated that insufficient staff time was a problem for them more than six times in a year. In addition to staffing individual events, the survey asked respondents to reflect on what personnel support was available to assist with outreach support. Facilities personnel, administrative assistants, and student assistants were the most commonly available resources, followed by event planning committees and a library event planner. Marketing and promotions also plays a significant role in outreach activities, so respondents were asked to describe the relationship between marketing and outreach at their libraries. More than three fourths of libraries (45, or 79%) had a dedicated library marketing professional or unit that supported outreach. A similar number of libraries (40, or 70%) also had librarians or library staff performing marketing duties. Some respondents described marketing committees at their institutions. Very few libraries had marketing assistance from their institution or from an external organization. Collaborations As a central gathering place that furthers the mission and vision of their larger institutions and communities, libraries are well poised to be strategic partners within their communities. Respondents consistently indicated the value that their libraries placed on developing strategic partnerships and collaborations. These collaborations were valued because they helped ensure that strategic goals were met, they broadened the scope of expertise and perspectives, provided access and avenues to new audiences, created additional marketing efforts, and leveraged resources, both financial and staffing. However, collaborations were not without their challenges, which included differing expectations, communication issues, varying timelines between partners, a lack of follow through, and limited ability to hold partners accountable.
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