by Malikah Hall
This year, our library has changed our outreach efforts to be more collaborative. We have created an outreach calendar that highlights different holidays, news worthy events, faculty and student accomplishments and other law and government related themes. After creating the initial draft of this calendar (new happenings & possible outreach themes are added as they become available), we thought it would be cool to partner with different student organizations that speak to the theme of that month. Moreover, we are using it as a way to not only highlight materials in our print collection but to also highlight some digital resources that students may not know exist. I found myself learning a lesson or two along the way.
The first monthly theme was Black History Month. The Chair of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) had a terrific idea of creating a mock newspaper stand that included newspaper front pages highlighting historic moments in African-American legal history. She’d been playing online but wasn’t finding what she was looking for. BLSA Chair – Meet the ProQuest Historical Newspaper archive. It is your friend. I also knew of a few books with some illustrations that I thought would fit perfectly with her vision.
As a way to market this outreach effort, we also decided to have BLSA table outside of the display. We partnered with our Law School’s marketing department on something titled “Feature Fridays.” Each Friday, we highlighted a different item related to the display or BLSA: in the first week, we announced the display; highlighted the BLSA table the second week; provided the titles to the books on display as “good reads” in the third week; and emphasized the accomplishments of BLSA in the fourth week.
As we were assembling the display, I learned that in a partnership with a student organization that we service, it is important to understand that their vision is their vision. Although we can tweak the placement of things, or make suggestions, it is sometimes best to just allow them the freedom to bring their vision to life with the assistance of the library. If you step back long enough, something glorious happens: the student sees their vision come to fruition – with our help! Once the display was fully assembled, the BLSA Chair just sat back and stared at how it was nearly exactly as she pictured in her head. The pride in accomplishing this goal brought enthusiasm to the table.
Throughout the semester, BLSA has received lots of congratulations and compliments on what they were able to come up with. We have also had a visitor from our main campus who was so impressed that she is now looking to initiate similar outreach efforts at the main campus library.
March is Women’s History Month and March 2 is Texas Independence. We are currently in the development stages for a display in partnership with the Women’s Law Student Association (WLSA). This display will honor the “yellow roses of Texas” in law and government. In addition to the display and WLSA table, we are hoping to expand our efforts to include a “speaker in the stacks” component. The idea is to invite prominent faculty and alumni to an informal Q&A in the library classroom. Wish us luck!