SPEC Kit 312: Public Engagement  ·  17
Survey Questions and Responses
The SPEC survey on Public Engagement was designed by Scott Walter, Associate University Librarian for
Services, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Lori Goetsch, Dean of Libraries, Kansas State
University. These results are based on data submitted by 56 of the 123 ARL member libraries (46%) by the
deadline of March 20, 2009. The survey’s introductory text and questions are reproduced below, followed by
the response data and selected comments from the respondents.
Public engagement refers to the activities or programs that a library or institution of higher education pursues in order to provide
resources and services to members of the communities outside its campus. Through public engagement programs, the unique
collections, resources, and expert knowledge that reside in the library are placed in service to the community, especially as those
services may further the goals of cultural awareness, civic responsibility, or lifelong learning.
In making a commitment to public engagement, the library sponsors and supports mission-centered partnerships across library
types, with civic and community organizations, and with professional communities at the local, state, regional, national, or
international level. Public engagement activities are distinguished from more familiar outreach activities (e.g., community
borrower programs) through their commitment to
between libraries and outside groups, their focus on the
professional expertise
of the librarian, archivist, or other library professionals providing service, and the opportunity for the
library and its partner(s) to derive
mutual benefit
from the work. Library public engagement activities may also be defined as
services or programs designed to complement, or contribute to, public engagement initiatives sponsored by other campus units
(e.g., an academic librarian contributing to a community-based children’s literature program coordinated by the College of
This survey is designed to determine the degree to which research libraries are leading or contributing to campus programs
related to community service and public engagement, e.g., the development and delivery of library service programs to
cooperative extension agencies, arts groups, community organizations, K-12 schools, public libraries, and/or professional
communities, including librarians, social workers, teachers, and health care professionals. This survey expands and updates the
results found in SPEC Kit 233:
The Role of ARL Libraries in Extension/Outreach
(August 1998). This survey is not designed
to identify trends in liaison librarianship or activities designed to enhance engagement between the library and the campus
community all of which were explored in SPEC Kit 301:
Liaison Services
(October 2007). Liaison librarian work may be
recognized in this SPEC Kit, however, to the degree that it represents
the library contributing to a public engagement
program housed in the liaison
The construction of this survey has been informed by the documentation required for the Carnegie Foundation’s Community
Engagement Elective Classification.
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