Engaging Library Outreach to Underserved Communities

Presented by: Pat Wagner

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Program Number: LI 276

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Your library’s underserved communities could include groups of people who share the same age range, ethnicity, gender, level of education, socioeconomic status, or where they live in your community. Once you have identified who you need to serve (or to improve services to existing target audiences), how do you plan to connect with them? Usually more is needed that a library public relations campaign. Sometimes, outreach starts with a personal handshake.


  • Introduction: Outreach is a two-way street.
  • The Key Idea: Community outreach needs to become community friendships.
  • Respect for other communities of people
  • Recruiting partners
  • Outreach issues
  • Public relations and marketing
  • Common mistakes


  • Identify and prioritize for which communities the library is going to improve services.
  • Recruit representatives of those communities and give them decision-making power, not just input roles.
  • Attend political and cultural events that are important to these communities on their turf.
  • Find opportunities to partner as equals with leaders in target communities for events and projects.

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