Tales of Extreme Outreach

One of my favourite parts of my job is outreach. I love talking to our students and researchers. It really helps me understand how we fit in their research and ways we can help them improve what they’re doing. Typically my outreach involves going to classes or meetings and letting people know we (the library) exist, that TRIS is better than Google to start transportation research, and that they should always feel free to contact me with any questions. I also might either mention free candy or give some away. It’s sort of a soft sell, but it’s been quite effective. I know the fact that I’m close to their age helps. (Anecdotally, one student said they knew I was a good librarian because I mentioned something “sucked” during my spiel. I don’t remember that, but it sounds like me.)

Well, tonight was my first step into a new type of outreach and being embedded. Instead of joining their research projects and groups (which I’m working on), I joined their intramural soccer team. I have a relationship with a number of our student research based on the sport. We will watch matches in the library, some come over to watch big games on the weekends, and there’s friendly trash talking. It’s just one way I’ve related to them, which has been used as an entrée to help them with their research needs. When they were forming their team, a couple people asked me to join, knowing I’ve been playing in other leagues. I went for it. The ironic thing is that I never played intramural sports as an undergrad. Even though we lost tonight, it’s been great playing with them. On the walk home I discussed their research with them and ways I can address their needs. Of course I was chuffed when I heard that their more pressing needs are in line with my platform for transportation data. Not only did I get exercise, but I also got affirmation that I’m on the right path towards helping my users. It’s a nice feeling.