The topic for May’s Online Discussion focused around Services to Special Populations. It is important to think not only of the customers we see every day but those we may not see due to barriers, which may be unknown to us, that prevent customers from benefiting from our services.
A few such populations brought up in the course of the discussion were international students in university and college settings, migrant workers, and people returning from incarceration, though there are many other populations that could be identified depending on your service area.
As far as special programming, outreach, or other activities to support these identified populations and connect them with library services, it was noted that at the college or university as a whole there may be extra support offered for international students, even if it is not offered directly through the library. Well stocked collections in languages other than English was one other point, though something else to keep in mind is the literacy level of individuals in their primary language. Another suggested program was transforming a meeting room into a play area for the children of area migrant workers. It was noted that the program numbers began dwindling and the program no longer exists. One potential reason for this is possible deportation of migrant workers. It is also possible that there is a fear of certain spaces, such as the library, where it is perceived immigration status may be questioned and reported.
No new ideas or innovations to reach special populations were discussed but many libraries are executing creative programs and initiatives to reach greater audiences so maybe we’ll get some ideas in the comments!