Proceedings of the Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians

Community outreach initiatives at UNCG Libraries: the ROI of ROI outreach

Amy Harris Houk, Samantha Harlow, Maggie Murphy


The notion of “community outreach” can be complicated for academic libraries, because both “community” and “outreach” can have multiple meanings. While many academic libraries have a mission or administrative mandate to engage with local and regional communities, these initiatives are not always backed with material support, adequate staffing, or equal distribution of responsibilities within the library. Thus, it can be difficult for academic libraries to engage in community outreach while still serving the core constituency of the institution: students, faculty, and staff. In response to this issue, this paper discusses various strategic planning models that can be used to plan for community outreach initiatives within academic libraries, featuring a case study of a health information literacy outreach event planned and executed by a team of librarians from the Research, Outreach, and Instruction department within UNC Greensboro’s University Libraries. Additionally, the authors of the paper propose a framework for determining the return on investment and feasibility of outreach opportunities, which is in turn applied to the case study.

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