The Role of Libraries in Engagement Work

Initial Curators: Sarah Goodwin Thiel, Community Engagement Librarian, University of Kansas Libraries

Introduction

To support academia’s ongoing commitment to community engagement and engaged scholarship, academic libraries are building networks between partners internal and external to the campus community. Librarians are relationship builders for their campuses and they recognize the value of building essential, foundational community relationships. By showcasing faculty, student and community research and making this research openly available on and off our campuses, libraries encourage and enrich community engagement and at the same time, lay the foundation for research opportunities that support engaged scholarship. Libraries can help to deepen the impact of civic action plans and further the ongoing engagement efforts of college and university campuses.

Engagement roles for libraries include:

  1. Connecting resources and encouraging interaction between campus and citizen scholars
  2. Creating and installing exhibitions that feature the research and creative work of faculty, student and community scholars
  3. Providing openly available digital repositories and online research tools to showcase campus and community research, collections and resources

Key resources

1) Connecting resources and encouraging interaction between campus and citizen scholars. Networking with public and school libraries throughout the state and region

2) Exhibitions/Lectures/Events that feature the research and creative work of faculty, student and community scholars

3) Openly available digital repositories and online research tools

Organizations

  • American Library Association (ALA)
    ALA promotes libraries and library education internationally. It is the oldest and largest library association in the world.

    • Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL)
      ACRL is the higher education association for librarians and is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship.
    • Public Library Association (PLA)
      PLA works to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve through increased collaboration and sharing of best practices.
    • Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC)
      LTC is an ALA initiative to strengthen communities by giving libraries the tools they need to bring disparate voices together and lead change.
  • Association of Research Libraries (ARL)
    ARL collaborates with others in higher education and beyond to advance the development, expression, sharing, and preservation of knowledge. ARL influences the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve.
  • Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC)
    The Engagement Scholarship Consortium works collaboratively to build strong university-community partnerships anchored in the rigor of scholarship, and designed to help build community capacity.
  • Action Research Network of the Americas (ARNA)
    ARNA unites college and university students and faculty conducting practitioner inquiry into teaching and learning with fellow action researchers in public schools, private schools, community settings and workplaces throughout the Americas.
  • Harwood Institute for Public Innovation
    The Harwood Institute is a nonpartisan, independent nonprofit that teaches, coaches and inspires people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together.
  • Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)
    SPARC works to enable the open sharing of research outputs and educational materials in order to democratize access to knowledge, accelerate discovery, and increase the return on our investment in research and education.

Exemplars

  • KU Libraries, University of Kansas
    KU Libraries Community Engagement services include effective engagement with incoming and returning students; outreach to lifelong learners throughout local, state and regional communities and providing access to KU faculty, staff, student and community scholarship.

    • Exhibits: In partnership with other cultural venues at KU and throughout our local and regional community, the exhibitions promote the scholarly and educational mission of the University, reflect the Libraries’ commitment to freedom of information and cultural diversity, and stimulate academic discourse on campus.
    • KU Scholar Works: KU’s digital repository contains scholarly work created by KU faculty, staff and students, as well as material from the University Archives. KU ScholarWorks makes important research and historical items available to a wider audience and helps assure their long-term preservation.
  • William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University (LMU)
    The William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) contributes to formative and transformative education through outreach, exhibits, and programming for the LMU community and beyond.
  • University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    The University Library works to actively engage user communities by providing access to unique collections, resources, and expertise. Information for faculty concerning public engagement and promotion and tenure is also provided.

Other Useful Information

Librarians increase the impact of engagement research in many ways. Additional examples are here listed.

  • Service Learning and Information Literacy
    Academic librarians support service learning through information literacy instruction and other forms of community engagement.
  • Librarians as Partners in Research
    Librarians are increasingly considered critical partners in institutional research activities due to high-level research knowledge and skills.
  • Design Thinking for Libraries
    Design Thinking for Libraries is an approach for libraries to effectively engage with internal and external communities through empathic thinking and creative problem solving.

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