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Book Review: Successful Community Outreach

Book Review: Successful Community Outreach: a How-to-Do-It Manual for Librarians by Barbara Blake, Robert S. Martin, and Yunfei Du. Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2011. ISBN 9781555707729 $64.95

This practical guide thoroughly covers the “nuts and bolts” of outreach planning for libraries. It will help you take stock of both your library and your community to determine community needs and library service goals which can address those needs. The book contains many worksheets (which are also on an accompanying CD) to aid you in developing a library vision and mission statement, describing the goals and objectives for your library services, mapping community assets, demographics, and needs, as well as drawing up an outreach action plan. There is also discussion and worksheets to help you identify community outreach partners, organize data collection, and evaluate outreach projects. Examples of real outreach project action plans are included on the CD.

The one area I felt the authors did not discuss in enough depth was publicity and marketing. Though there are some specific examples of how libraries publicized their events in the CD action plan files, the book did not offer a separate chapter on the importance and methods of publicizing outreach programs and marketing the library’s services. I would have liked to have seen some examples of creative ways to publicize outreach events as I feel that the most difficult part of an outreach project is getting out the word to your audience in a way that will entice them to attend.

Though this book is meant for public libraries, the concepts and step-by-step process presented will be applicable to most health sciences and consumer health libraries that want to develop and expand their own community health outreach programs. I recommend it to librarians just beginning to plan outreach projects as well as to the more experienced outreach coordinators who want to improve the effectiveness of their programs and events.

Deborah A. Clark, MLIS, AHIP
Healthy Communities COI Leader

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