Reaching Patrons:

Online Outreach for Public Libraries

A 20-Item Checklist

Sarah Houghton-Jan, MA, MLIS

Information and Web Services Manager, San Mateo County Library

Librarian in Black:

October 2006

slides version | printable version

What is online outreach?

robot head of wired goodness
  • Our users—all of them, not just the kids—are increasingly wired and libraries need to meet them on their own turf.

  • Their own turf is now largely virtual.

  • So, as we've always done outreach in the physical sense, we must now do the same virtually.

Why is online outreach essential?

The Cost

Everything in today’s presentation is free.

However, you have to give staff time to do this on an ongoing basis.

#1: Ensure that you are findable in the major search engines

#2: Make sure you’re listed in library directories

When people look for a library in your area, you should be there. And make sure your information is accurate!

#3: List your library in Wikipedia on the appropriate town or county entries

#4: Make sure you’re in Wikimapia

Add locations for your libraries and other community features of interest to your residents to Wikimapia:

#5: List your library events and services in local community websites and calendars

#6: Ensure that your library has a presence on local government, school, and community websites.

#7: Monitor local blogs, technology boards, continuing education boards, and other forums.

#8: Create a profile for your library in social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.

#9: Offer assistance (reference and circulation help) via instant messaging.

#10: List your library in Free WiFi directories if you offer free wireless.

#11: Check reviews of your library on social review sites.

Decide up front if you want to participate and reply, and how.

#12: List your library’s blog on geographic blog search engines.

This allows people to find the library and see that it has a blog (undoubtedly a surprise).

#13: Are your items listed in WorldCat?

#14: Make sure you’re in Google Local.

#15: Push newsletters out via e-mail and RSS feeds.

Push the information out to them.

#16: Consider being present in Second Life and other online game environments.

#17: List your staff as experts in various free expert-finding tools.

#18: Make your audio and video content findable.

Upload videos to:

#18: Make your audio and video content findable.

Upload audio to, or make sure the audio is listed in: Transcribe your audio content. For more sites to submit to, see:

#19: Make sure library blog is listed in blog search engines.

#20: Subscribe to feeds to find discussions/content about your library.

To find blog posts, news stories, and more that mention your library:

#20: Subscribe to feeds to find discussions/content about your library.

To find videos taken in/of your library: To find photos taken in/of your library:

To sum up....

Getting out of our own little websites is a good thing--find where your users are and go there.

«  credits »

You can contact Sarah Houghton-Jan at [email protected] or IM her at LibrarianInBlack.

This presentation was created in HTML using CSS. There was no PowerPoint involved in this presentation. The layout and stylesheet are available to borrow via a share and share alike creative commons license. See source code for details.