Using a Rare Book Exhibit as an Interactive Community Engagement Opportunity

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New methods of teaching, the proliferation of online information, and a call for universities and colleges to demonstrate value has created an environment that challenges higher education institutions to communicate their continued relevance. These cultural shifts have been felt deeply by traditional campus services such as libraries. Long gone are the days when libraries exist merely on the goodwill of campus administrators and the fond memory of the book stacks. Libraries now must justify their relevance to student success, and librarians are responding to these requirements by both designing new services and adapting traditional models for a new era. As libraries adapt, it is vital that they continually communicate their value to users and key campus stakeholders. Outreach is a way for libraries to promote their services, demonstrate value by engaging with stakeholders, and show their usefulness and relevance in today's modern academe to create a narrative of value and relevance. Librarians must think strategically about designing programs that speak both to the library's mission and that of the university as a whole. By aligning outreach programs with strategic campus priorities, libraries can demonstrate the value of their contributions to the larger campus audience. Four key concepts are frequently proposed as cornerstones on which outreach activities should be built: learning more about our users, enhancing our image, promoting awareness of Library materials, and educating people. Gerrianne Schaad of the McKay Archives (Florida Southern College) curated a traveling collection of rare books and documents, and collaborated with fellow librarians and teaching faculty to create outreach and educational tools to provide students with hands-on and engaged learning opportunities.
Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 2019