Outreach in Five Minutes

June 28, 2015

Sunday's Ignite Session presenters.
Sunday's Ignite Session presenters.

Sunday’s Ignite Session featured seven presenters, each talking for five minutes on a personal passion in a quick-fire format.

San Francisco Public Library Teen Librarian Mary Abler’s presentation, “Outreach—Keep It Simple, Stupid,” provided tips for doing effective, active outreach immediately. Abler emphasized the importance of spending just a little bit of time doing outreach activities that we already know will work in our libraries.

While serving a two-year residency at Los Angeles Public Library, Abler started The Unexpected Library Project, a pilot project to reach the Los Angeles community through nontraditional methods and in nontraditional places. That project showed that conversations work. Abler said “users were 85% more likely to use the library” after talking with Abler and her staff in Los Angeles. While it may not be possible to talk one-on-one with every individual in the community, Abler stressed the importance of getting out there. “The key is to JUST GET STARTED,” she said. It can be done anywhere, but librarians have to get out from behind their tables or the reference desk and approach the people who believe that the library has nothing to offer them.

To conclude her presentation, Abler offered some tips for quick, effective outreach:

  • Smile and have fun.
  • Ask good questions, such as “What are you passionate about?” Then, connect users with resources related to their interests.
  • Focus on the people that you can engage. This doesn’t have to be a hard sell, nor should it.
  • Set measurable goals, such as starting a specific number of conversations.

In the Ignite format, every speaker has 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. Another Ignite session will take place Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Moscone Convention Center, room 130N.


A Tale of Two Cities opening slide

Closing the Gap

Examining Wi-Fi lending pilots at NYPL and CPL