What Is National Library Outreach Day?

Library outreach has evolved over the years, morphing from basic bookmobiles into traveling storytimes, makerspaces, tech classes, hotspots, and community information centers.

Did you know that National Library Outreach Day was formerly known as National Bookmobile Day?

Bringing libraries into communities is among the best ways for them to reach a broader audience. This opportunity helps libraries stay relevant and engage people who may not otherwise interact with them. Outreach programs can increase brand visibility, raise awareness of products or services, build customer relationships, and generate leads.

Bookmobiles, or mobile libraries, are vehicles designed for flexibility and have had many names throughout history. Bookmobiles still exist, but they transport much more than just books — especially in low-income neighborhoods where transportation to a true brick-and-mortar library can often be challenging. Some library bookmobiles carry DVDs, games, magazines, and music. And you can usually request specific titles for pick-up, hot spots, technology, and more.

Introducing Meg Medina and National Library Week

The theme and campaign for National Library Week 2024 (April 7–13) is Ready, Set, Library! Librarians and other staff can find 11 x 17 in. posters in the American Library Association (ALA) store. Members pay $9.90 for as many posters as they wish to print.

Author Meg Medina, the 2023–24 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and winner of the John Newbery Medal and Pura Belpré Award, will serve as the 2024 Honorary Chair for National Library Week. Medina has won several other awards and received even more nominations for her books. When not writing, she works on community projects that support girls, Latino youth, and literacy.


Sign the petition to show that Americans love their libraries!

Things to Do Related to Library Outreach

National Library Outreach Day recognizes the dedicated library staff who make libraries accessible to everyone, wherever they are. Services range from mobile access to information and resources through bookmobiles to community pop-up services. These professionals work hard to provide these services and improve and increase them year after year.

For over one hundred years, bookmobiles have brought library access to those who might not otherwise have it. Bookmobiles are mobile libraries designed to travel from one neighborhood to another. They hold various books and periodicals and usually run on a schedule. Many also offer computer access.

Bookmobile librarians check out books much as they would at a local library. You can return books at the next scheduled stop or the associated library. However, this service is merely peripheral to outreach services as a whole. These services include:

  • Library tours and open houses
  • Author talks and readings
  • Student visits
  • School partnerships
  • Presentations and projects
  • Book displays

Libraries change continually, as do their outreach services — all for the betterment of the community.

What Is an Outreach Librarian?

With libraries, outreach can be considered a service for infrequent users, nonusers, or those traditionally underserved. Outreach librarians work hard to provide equitable delivery of library services to all people by developing programs, policies, practices, and behaviors that make the library available to many.

Outreach librarians work in dynamic and changing environments where they develop new and innovative services. They often work outside the library with various community groups or in the field with specific populations. Depending on the programs they offer, they can have unique or variable work schedules. These librarians are people-focused, social, and passionate. They tend toward creativity and think outside the box.

Outreach librarians also need strong communication and collaboration skills to help connect with new groups and work with multiple organizations. They must be skilled at rapidly assessing their environment and identifying their library’s strengths and opportunities to improve their services. Since most libraries are busy, they must also be comfortable and competent with multitasking.


Sign the pledge to vote for libraries!

Extension/Outreach Department Services in Action

The outreach department of libraries develops and maintains a collection that may include:

But that’s not all. There’s a lot more to library outreach than you might imagine.

In-Home Library Service

If you reside in a specific county or region and love to read but can’t access the library, you might qualify for the outreach department’s in-home library service for the homebound.

Corrections Support

The outreach department may receive County Jail Interinstitutional Aid, like at the New York State Library, to buy educational and recreational reading materials. Additionally, outreach staff might collaborate with educational coordinators to deliver presentations and information about library and reentry services to incarcerated individuals.

Outreach department staff may maintain select listings of area reentry resources and mail them to incarcerated individuals as requested. The Making Moves reentry resources on the Rochester Public Library website can also help.


Your donations help support libraries across the country.


Community Outreach

Outreach librarians love to get out into the community! They’re thrilled to provide outreach to community organizations serving their target populations. They distribute information about library services and programs at community events. And you can even request library outreach for an event by filling out your library’s online form.

Books by Bike

Many libraries offer mobile services, such as the Rochester Public Library’s Books by Bike program. This program has the goals of:

  • Increasing the library’s ability to offer library services during outreach events in the community.
  • Increasing visibility in the community and market libraries in general.
  • Promoting sustainability (e.g., biking as a clean mode of transportation).

Books by Bike has often been active in the community. Outings have included events like local farmers markets, community festivals, parades, and more. This program has helped library staff reach people who might need help traveling to the library or need to be made aware of its many services.

During Books by Bike outings, library staff can create new library card accounts and perform other circulation transactions, such as charging or returning library materials. They can also give away books — mainly to children — and provide general library information.

Talking Book and Braille Library

The New York State Talking Book and Braille Library (TBBL) is free for eligible residents of Upstate New York who can’t use ordinary print materials because of a visual, physical, or reading disability.

If you have access to a computer and an internet connection, select and download the complete digital collection yourself through BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download). This service is simple to use and provides immediate access to every book in the digital audiobook collection. For more information and downloading instructions, see the BARD web page. Downloading these books is the best way to obtain them.



Visit www.everylibrary.org to learn more about our work on behalf of libraries. 

#librarymarketers: Enjoy this story? Want to use it for your library newsletter, blog, or social media? This article is published under Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International and is free to edit and use with attribution. Please cite EveryLibrary on medium.com/everylibrary.

This work by EveryLibrary is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0