Outreach Kits Enable Staff to Efficiently Share Library Resources

When Johnson County Library information specialists visit community groups and local gatherings, they now have a convenient tool for sharing Library resources.

New outreach kits hold Library cards and applications in English and Spanish; Library guides and bookmarks; office supplies, tech devices if needed and fun promotional giveaways for patrons. The materials go into a tub that’s carried in a fold-up cart. It all fits in a car for easy transport.

This was an outgrowth of events opening back up after the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Library began to receive invitations again in 2022 to visit service organizations, the Arts & Heritage museum, parks and other venues. The materials hadn’t been refreshed since 2019, so the Communications Department seized the opportunity to create a full-service kit.

“There was a need to create more updated materials,” said External Communications Manager Elissa Andre. “We were thinking about different ways to reach audiences. How do we take this back to the in-person event? Not only is it marketing, but it’s building that relationship with the Library.”

When Central Resource Library reopened in February 2022, staff set up a Library card station separate from the front desk. Then staff recognized the need for a mobile Library card signup kit, with a laptop and mobile hot spot, to visit remote locations.

Andre said Creative Services Coordinator Cindy Frazer was instrumental to this project. Frazer used her graphic design skills and also figured out materials to include. Banners proclaim the Library’s DISCOVER campaign. Frazer also gave kudos to the IT Help Desk for assistance with mobile hot spots that staff may request.

Sarah Askew, a Lenexa City Center information specialist, said the kits are wonderful. Prior to the pandemic, when she visited community groups, she would scramble to assemble her own materials in a box. Now she fills out a form a few weeks ahead of time and picks up the kit at Central Resource Library.

“This just makes it easier to have the kit ready to roll,” Askew said. “It has everything you need. It’s in a nice cart so I don’t have to carry a box. You check it out, and return it, and they restock it for the next person.”

Askew used the kit several times in 2022, including for a senior living center presentation in November. One woman mentioned that her husband was immunocompromised and not able to attend. She said her husband had received a Kindle as a gift but didn’t know how to retrieve the Library’s eBooks on it.

Askew visited the couple’s room and provided a personal demonstration of the Library’s Libby eBook collection.

She later received an email from the woman saying her husband was loving the eBooks. “This brings happiness to my heart to see him enjoying books once again,” the woman wrote.

At another event, Askew provided seniors with magnifier sheets (like magnifying glasses, but plastic sheets that increase print size on a page) printed with the Johnson County Library logo. They were very popular, so Askew recommended providing those sheets in the kit.

Andre said Library staff visited over 25 events in 2022, issuing more than 40 new Library cards. At one event, a lady confessed that she felt so guilty about losing a Library book 30 years earlier that she hadn’t had a Library card since. Librarians reassured her and signed her up with a new card.

“We’re just excited to grow this,” Andre said. “Our goal is to have a suite of products to customize these kits, to really bring the Library to the public and meet the specific need of the audience.”