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LET'S TALK LIBRARIES

A blog from the Southern Ontario Library Service

Community Outreach and Competencies

This is the sixth post in a series on competencies based professional development.


I am Lindsay Stephens, the Community Outreach/Inreach Coordinator for Haldimand County Public Library. I want to share with you how the SOLS competencies index and sample profiles speak to me as a professional and my position. First, take a moment to read through the newly developed Community Outreach Coordinator Sample Profile.

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In 2012, when a retirement allowed for the creation of a new position, Haldimand County Public Library underwent some restructuring. The purpose of the new position is to ensure the Library remains vibrant, inclusive and relevant by being responsive to changing community and customer service needs; its title is the Community Outreach/Inreach Coordinator. The position came with a well formed list of accountabilities and tasks, including, but not limited to; assisting with public relations, marketing and promotion, representing the Library at community events, assisting with website and social media development and maintenance, coordinating volunteer activities, liaising with external organizations and managing partnerships, and the planning and implementation of young adult and adult programming. We decided to learn by doing; continually engaging in internal training, professional development and networking opportunities to form the daily workflow of the Outreach Coordinator.

When I first engaged with the Community Outreach Coordinator sample competencies profile I was excited by how well the profile outlines both the interpersonal, intellectual and vocational skills necessary to function within this role. The sample profile has acted as a guiding document for me, as I hope it does for others. I have used the profile to better articulate the scope of the work I do as Outreach Coordinator and to guide my professional development. The sample is very grounding – ensuring I am staying on the right track and continuing to learn and grow along the way within the position. I would suggest that every Outreach Coordinator, whether new to the role or a veteran, explore the profile; check off associated knowledge, skills and abilities where you feel you are well developed. Explore opportunities to further develop those that you feel need some growth. Keep a copy of the document handy: cross check it when browsing upcoming webinars and workshops or selecting the sessions you will attend at OLA Super Conference. You can also control your own learning in a less formal respect through the competencies index by choosing to be introspective and mindful of how you embody certain knowledge, skills or abilities within a competency. Professional development does not have to occur in a workshop or webinar; it can happen daily by understanding yourself and developing your skills within your daily work environment.

The nature of the work we do within the public libraries of Ontario is constantly changing; community needs, professional trends and technology are in a constant state of flux. It is up to us, professionals dedicated to community outreach, development and programming, to adapt along with it. We have such a unique opportunity to learn, grow and inspire through our work. The competencies index and samples profiles offer an excellent tool for taking advantage of this.