Outreach: The Potential of Collaboration

Yesterday I attended the second meeting of the new UA Outreach Collaborative, a group formed with the intention of bringing together outreach forces campus-wide to form partnerships, communicate our activities, share best practices, and avoid the all-too-common re-inventing of the wheel.  

It’s exciting for me to meet faculty and staff from across campus that are involved in all different levels of outreach – from the Department of Education to the College of Science to the Lunar and Planetary Labratory to the Arizona State Museum to BIO5… all working on community outreach activities. Reaching out to K-12, teachers, families, and underrepresented populations. At first it was a little daunting – we all have such different missions, what do we all have in common? What can we achieve by communicating with each other? 

After a “speed dating” networking session I came away with a few ideas of where this collaborative group might lead:

  1. The Arizona State Museum has a number of educational programs going on throughout the year; part of their mission is to promote literacy. They partner with the Pima County Public Library but not with us. Could the campus library play a role here?
  2. Junior Scientist’s Day, a family event coordinated by the Library and held at the Science-Engineering Library, is coming up this weekend. We have over a dozen tables and participants from the university and beyond. We could hold more educational events like this, and having contacts around campus could really facilitate the creation of such events.
  3. At the library we have space for exhibits, both at Main and Science-Engineering, space that goes empty to often. We also have big meeting rooms and an electronic classroom perfect for workshops and trainings. Let’s take advantage of these, and invite others to use our resources for outreach purposes. When we bring together our assets we increase the possiblities of what we can do.

I’m hopeful that continuing to have these monthly meetings and bringing the outreach community together will open up doors and encourage creative new projects. As someone new to the “outreach” world of librarianship, this is an exciting concept…

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