Thursday, January 23, 2014

Outreach in the North Philadelphia Neighborhood Libraries

Contrary to popular belief, librarians do not sit at their desks all day. Along with our various job duties (computer assistant, information retriever, social worker, therapist, mediator, etc.), we are tasked with going out into our communities. Outreach allows us to promote programs/services offered by the Free Library to new audiences and connect our existing patrons to community resources. A majority of our outreach takes place in our neighborhood schools; we supplement teaching curricula with story times, project assistance, information literacy, book talks and more. Furthermore, we also conduct outreach in non-academic settings, including churches, non-profits, businesses and other community organizations. Although we face several obstacles (inadequate staffing, building issues, limited financial resources), we are an impassioned group of librarians seeking to create partnerships and serve as the bridge between our community and our neighborhood organizations.

At the Widener Neighborhood Library, several ongoing programs are a direct result of extensive outreach. Our weekly GED class, which will begin again in February, came about after the instructor picked up a branch business card at an outreach event. Quarterly business programs from Temple University’s Small Business Development Center began I stopped by their office and asked if they present offsite workshops. Our Children's Librarian conducts weekly storytimes that have grown exponentially due to her persistent visits to each daycare provider in our area. Even our patrons assist us with spreading library information throughout the community by sharing our flyers. Attending community meetings also benefitted outreach efforts tremendously because we are able to connect with new individuals/groups, such as the 22nd Police District and Philly 311.

The Kensington Neighborhood Library provides extensive outreach to its community through El Centro High School and the East Kensington Neighborhood Association. Interns from El Centro completed projects at the branch and invited the Adult Librarian to their final presentations. The East Kensington Neighborhood Association provided an opportunity to share the library’s events and network with other organizations. The librarians also identified a local Vietnamese population and are in the process of coordinating outreach events for these individuals.

Lillian Marrero Neighborhood Library works closely with Congreso, especially around adult education issues, and its PANAM Charter School. Ms. Diana Garcia, the assistant principal, invited the adult and children’s librarian to visit the school, have a tour and participate in the Literary Parade on October 31. Since that event, they have received over 300 library card applications from the PANAM students and scheduled visits to the library with each of the classes. The Teen Librarian is currently hosting college prep every Monday from 1/6/2014 thru 2/24/2014 from 4:00 to 5:30pm. She also made contact with organizations such as BUSCA, Temple and I-LEAD by attending a network session sponsored by PCPR, after attending an introductory outreach session with a fellow librarian.

These examples mentioned represent a small percentage of the awesome outreach provided by the North Philadelphia Neighborhood Libraries. We look forward continuing outreach and creating new partnerships within our communities.

-Christina P. (Adult/Teen Librarian at the Widener Neighborhood Library)

1 comment:

  1. Librarians must be like Krishna! And descend into the world to combat ignorance!" - Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan