10 Survey Results: Executive Summary a few ARL institutions have adopted a programmatic approach to library outreach, others may still be in the early stages of this process and may adhere to a more ad hoc approach to outreach programming. Limitations This survey included a number of limitations. The survey was filled out by a single individual at each ARL institution, but the data seemed to indicate that outreach was highly distributed across multiple staff in library organizations and not centrally managed. It is difficult to claim that the survey data was comprehensive as many of the individuals actually doing the work did not have the ability to fill out the survey. In addition, many respondents indicated that they had difficulty answering some of the questions because answers were highly dependent on the context of a single event or activity. Focus groups or structured interviews could be used to get a more nuanced picture of library outreach activities. Further, the response rate to the survey was 46% and represents only a partial picture of how outreach occured at various ARL institutions. Recommendations Throughout this survey we have seen evidence that outreach services did not occur on a programmatic level or were not as well-defined as other common library functions, like reference, instruction, and collection management. Since most definitions of outreach were broad, generic, and catch-all statements, this contributes to a lack of a systematic and assessment-driven approach for outreach. Institutions could be more effective with a programmatic approach that includes a clear definition, meaningful and measurable outreach outcomes and goals, a defined budget, and utilization of various assessment methods. Further, the discipline would benefit from more training around goal- writing and assessment strategies as the data suggests that most professional development and training was self-initiated. As seen in various sections of this survey, in many cases staffing and planning were distributed among many individuals and groups and we do not know to what extent they communicate among each other. Instituting high-level planning and a programmatic approach would allow for a distributed model of staffing that works towards the same institutional objectives. In addition, a dedicated outreach budget would allow staff to plan for outreach programming throughout the year yet remain nimble enough to respond to opportunities and outside requests for participation. As it stands, many libraries reported needing administrative approval for events that required funding—a challenge that could be removed if dedicated budgets existed. There also seemed to be issues with oversight of outreach programs for example, many individuals participated in disparate outreach events, but no one person or group was responsible for overseeing institution-wide outreach programs. Instead, it appeared that the labor of outreach, including event planning and staffing, mostly fell to public services librarians and library staff, who were tasked with creating outreach activities without programmatic oversight or alignment. By developing a programmatic approach to outreach, similar to the approach many libraries have taken with other public services programs such as instruction and reference, library outreach activities will be more likely to be intentional, strategic, and impactful. If outreach is to grow and evolve like other library services, it needs to be more than just “nice to have” and instead seen as essential to student, faculty, and staff success and wellbeing. Conclusion Library outreach is still an emerging practice, as librarians struggle with a professional definition of outreach that transcends local context. Libraries seem dedicated to the concept of outreach, but are still struggling in the application of what an intentional and systematic outreach program might look like. Many respondents had difficulty answering questions in the survey because their libraries lacked
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