Audience impact and audiences served are concerns in the outreach business. Often our activities have a greater impact than we can measure, which should be acknowledged, especially in justifying our activities. Anna Francesca Garcia tackles ways to frame these issues.
When I interviewed for my current job, one of the questions from the panel was if I would be fulfilled working with teachers instead of kids. I said that I believed I could. I still do, but I’m glad to be able to dabble in the face-to-face time with the younger set, too.
This week, for example, I am subbing for one of the outreach associates who is on vacation. He goes to daycares and preschools where he leads enriched early literacy story times. I had a group today who echoed every line of Chris Raschka’s Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, without any prompting from me. Wow. I could feel my smile lighting my entire face. Then, every child in the room came to hug me because of how much each of them loved the stories, songs, and games. What could be more exhilarating?
This is the “micro” side of what we do. It is one-on-one and very gratifying. Now, though, I have moved more into the “macro” side of outreach. What is that? I was thinking of it as a pyramid scheme, but it isn’t illegal. I thought of it as trickle-down, but that is a very politically-laden term. Let’s just call it “fanning.”
My impact is far greater than the number of people who I actually see. Every teacher represents all of the students who learn from that teacher. Every library media specialist represents all of the staff at that school. Every educator who sees our webpage, uses our services, and tells a colleague represents an entire new class who may benefit from what we offer without me ever having seen that teacher or those students. This is the “macro” side of what we do.
It is like the telephone game, though, where messages can get garbled. Therefore, it is my job to:
- Be as clear and consistent as possible in what I say, and keep my message current.
- Make any printed handouts current, clear, and consistent.
- Be sure that information on our website for educators (www.kclibrary.org/for-educators) is current, clear, and consistent
See how I did that? I’ve been practicing. My boss wants me be succinct.
- Micro-services are face-to-face interactions.
- Macro-services are those where we see none or a few of the people who we serve but those people share what our services are with others.
There are pros and cons to both types of service.
- Micro: Pro= Personal interaction and connection; Con= Fewer people served
- Macro: Pro= More people served; Con= Less or no personal interaction and connection
- Neither type of service is mutually exclusive, and we need both.