Yesterday, in honor of Deafness Awareness Week, Schewe hosted two students from the Illinois School for the Deaf. The two students were interested in library careers, and Schewe was happy to give them a taste of the library life (glamorous as it is). The two students were introduced to the staff, and our Circulation Manager, Sarah Snyder, gave them an opportunity to learn some of the ins-and-outs of library operation. This is the second year Schewe has participated in this event, and it highlights one of the less-appreciated functions of academic libraries: community outreach.
Though the academic library’s primary mandate is to serve its parent campus, there is also an obligation — usually written, occasionally not — to provide a minimal level of service and materials’ lending to non-campus communities. In a small city such as Jacksonville, this mandate is even more pronounced. In the past, Schewe has involved itself in the following community outreach activities:
- Providing research assistance to local high-school students, including students from Winchester, Routt Catholic School, and Westfair Christian Academy.
- Hosting meetings of the Red Hat Society.
- Collaborating with local historical societies, particularly those associated with Jacksonville’s Underground Railroad sites.
- Providing lending and computing services to Jacksonville residents.
In the past, directorial prerogative has kept Schewe from engaging more fully with the broader Jacksonville community. Our new Director, Jan Figa, has made it a priority to promote the Library and its services to both students and non-students, and this philosophy of openness has already resulted in more Librarian engagement with the larger community. During the summer, the Library plans to have a “strategy summit” wherein community engagement will be a hot topic of discussion. Hopefully, we can arrive at a plan to further engage our non-College patrons!