by Katie DiSalvo-Thronson, Community Engagement and Partnership Manager
I believe outreach is for everybody, and it’s a first step towards many good things. Why not do some outreach today, and consider reaching out to the library?
I’m Katie DiSalvo-Thronson, and I’ve got about 20 years of community engagement experience from girl scout cookie sales, to working for a community school in the Dominican Republic, to community organizing. I’ve seen the power of outreach and steps that can follow, again and again.
Today is also Library Outreach Day. It’s also National Library Week, and this year’s theme is Connect With the Library. In honor of all that, I want to share some inspiration!
I view “outreach” as simply reaching out. It can be as easy as a hello at the mailbox. It is extending a welcome to someone new and inviting them to start being in a relationship with you.
Reaching out helps us live in friendlier, more connected communities. Connecting to people outside of our familiar circles helps us gain new understanding of the world. New relationships and new knowledge mean new possibilities. Reaching out also gives us a chance to share who we are with others.
It’s a step outside of the familiar and predictable. It’s a small, brave thing to do that makes the world a better place.
What is library outreach? Library outreach gives us a chance to share about the library – and we have beautiful spaces, incredible books and other resources, and tremendous free classes and events! Reaching out with that is phenomenal! We are committed to bringing as much as we can to the community. Did you know that we also have a new mobile unit, that provides books, children’s classes, and community engagement all over the county?
Library outreach also gives us a chance to listen and hear you! Did you know that we’ve recently talked to people at a flea market, a rock climbing event, and Howard Community College? That we connect with local civic, business, and cultural groups every day? Did you know that we’d like to connect to and hear from your community group? (we really would!)
But then what?
After we’ve reached out and gotten to know each other, that’s when the magic can happen.
- A Native American Heritage Month event with Ani Begay Auld, a local artist and activist, and the Howard County Office of Human Rights and Equity.
- Presentations about library resources followed by a craft class with the Howard County Family Child Care Association.
- Library-based food distributions by the Indian Cultural Association.
- Presenting related Library books at an education session with Community Advocates of Rainbow Youth about how to support trans/non-binary youth.
- A collaboration on story walks in the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area with local environmentalists and Howard County Recreation and Parks.
- The NAACP’s young men’s group meeting in the Library’s new Equity Resource Center.
- A great author event on the history of Muslim cooking with the Muslim Family Center.
- A new project lending chromebooks and providing remote English Language Conversation Classes to parents at Deep Run Elementary School.
- Local heroes featured on the Library podcast.
These are just a few of the ways we are collaborating with community members.
Bring your dreams here. Help your Library System provide the educational opportunities, community connections, culture, and joy that matter to you. Reach out to us, and let’s work on it together.
I mean it. Reach out to us! Talk to your favorite branch staffer or email me at
And try saying hi to someone new today. Odds are it’ll make you smile.