I’m the outreach person at my branch library and going out into the community is one of my favorite parts of my job. I always learn something, I get to meet people, I get to share information about the library, and I get to just hang out with other community organizations and learn what they offer. I always learn something and always meet interesting people and bring back new resources for community organizations to share in the library.
I’ve also started to do enough of these that I’m recognizing the outreach people for other organizations, which is kind of cool because we have pretty awesome conversations sometimes. Although, it can be a really depressing conversation. Usually the conversations are centered around the challenges of the community and we don’t usually come up with solutions, although we can use the other outreach participants as good sounding boards for odd occurrences in our own organizations.
Today I learned that there is an awesome organization in the city centered around helping children who are grieving. When a child loses someone close to them, usually a parent or sibling, this organization gives a place for them to go to be with peers who are going through a major loss as well. This is a fantastic organization! I had no idea they had something like this in town. It’s based upon a California organization, apparently. It’s for ages 5-25 and they actually even have a summer camp for kids who are grieving. Not focused on grief, necessarily, but just doing fun camp stuff. Trying to have a laugh and brighten the days of kids whose home lives are in major flux. I wish there’d been something like this for me. I think it’s hard to talk about grief with peers when you’re younger because not very many of your peers have dealt with that sort of loss, yet. Or rather, maybe there ARE peers around you but you just don’t know them or know they’re going through something similar. It’s a way for kids to work through the grieving process without being rushed by well-meaning friends who don’t really understand why you’re still sad after a few months. Why you haven’t snapped out of it. Why you can’t just move on. I’m going to remember this organization! It’s not centered exactly in my community, it’s on the other side of the city, but it would be of great benefit to the kids in my area, and I know of several families who might like to know about this right now.
It’s these sorts of organizations that I wouldn’t meet without being a part of these outreach events! It’s wonderful. When I became a librarian I didn’t give all that much thought to working out in the community. I thought of a librarian as a public service job, but mostly my thoughts were focused on inside the library. You know, just offering programs inside the library that I think people might enjoy. But a few years ago, I started to see the importance of being out in the community. Being visible. It’s less about bringing people in to the building and more about going outside the building and talking to people. Being visible in the community so that your library is quickly thought of when someone needs information. I think the library world as a whole is shifting more toward this idea. I like to think so, anyway. I see librarian jobs being advertised with titles now that are Community Engagement Librarian or Library Outreach Coordinator, etc. It’s a great shift in the right direction, I believe!