From Tributaries to the Mainstream: A Dedicated Outreach Role at UCD Library : Joshua Clark

Presented at the CONUL Conference, July 2015, Athlone, Ireland byJoshua Clark, University College Dublin

As a result of major restructuring of UCD Library in 2011-12, new units and staff roles were introduced to take into account the shifting University strategy, information landscape and user needs. One of these new roles, the Outreach Librarian, formed part of a new service unit: Communication and Outreach, dedicated to: streamlining, co-ordinating and professionalising the Library’s marketing and promotional efforts; producing and extending Library print and online publications/presence; helping to inform strategic initiatives; running the Library websites and latterly LibGuides environments; and coordinating internal library communications. Taking a higher level perspective on the role of the Unit this is to: publicise specific library information and innovations; increase the presence of the Library across the University; and build and update the Library image and brand – the perception of what we now offer users.

The Communications and Outreach Unit is made up of only two staff members, in addition to which some clerical level support is provided from a central planning and administration team. Much of the work of the Unit, from simple guide production through to major projects, involves working with other Library and external staff members through official committees and project groups, but most often through informal discussions.
Overall the dedicated Unit charged with promotion, communication and marketing – still a rarity in academic libraries – is considered to have generated a good return on investment for UCD Library. This presentation, after three years of operation, will outline in detail the reasoning behind it, and describe both the day-to-day and strategic responsibilities of its members. The emergence of new responsibilities, changes in workload, and required skill sets will also be examined.
A final summary will provide a personal viewpoint of the major benefits that have arisen from having a small dedicated outreach unit, and also some key and ongoing challenges.