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Celebrate National Library Outreach Day

April 26 is National Library Outreach Day, a chance to celebrate the dedicated library professionals who are meeting patrons where they are, when they need them. Since 2016, librarian Aimé Lohmeyer has been heading the New Orleans Public Library’s efforts to bring our services outside Library buildings and into the communities and neighborhoods where they are needed most.

“The goal of an outreach librarian is to engage current users where they are, but also engage nonusers, occasional users, and do what we can to provide equitable service to those that are underserved,” she said.

Whether she’s at a neighborhood event, walking in a parade, or visiting a school, senior center, or community hub, Lohmeyer said she always finds joy in creating personal connections –– an important component of outreach work.

“When I’m at an event and someone walks up to my table and says ‘I haven’t had a Library card in 40 years,’ I’m able to talk with them and show them how many things we offer. And, oftentimes, they realize that the Library actually does have something for them,” Lohmeyer said. “So, when they walk away from that interaction, they not only have a Library card, they’re also more connected to their city.”

Every year, Lohmeyer helps organize dozens of events, including Library card signup drives, book giveaways, information sessions, and other fun programs that promote the Library’s services. One of her favorite traditions is marching with her fellow library workers in local parades, like the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus and the Krewe of Jingle.

In 2022, a total of 6,833 people attended the 140 outreach events the Library participated in. From those events, more than 1,500 people signed up for Library cards.

While Lohmeyer is the official head of the system’s outreach efforts, she said she could not do it alone and gets lots of help from Library staff.

“I’m not out there by myself, and I’m infinitely thankful for all the branch staff who take the time to join me out and about. I’m the only ‘outreach librarian,’ but all the staff does outreach, in one way or another,” she said.

Robin Goldblum heads the Library’s Adult Learning and Education team. Alongise Izzy Oneiric, the Library’s digital literacy librarian, and Chris Lorenzen, who focuses on workforce development, much of Goldblum’s work focuses on outreach efforts.

“Meeting people where they are is one wonderful aspect of librarianship,” Goldblum said. “Taking the Library outside of its walls and into the community shines a light on all we do, but also provides access to those we may otherwise not reach.

Lohmeyer has been working for the New Orleans Public Library system for almost 15 years, serving as a youth services librarian at both Latter and Norman Mayer Libraries before stepping into the head of outreach role. Her favorite part of the job is “getting to go out into the city, talk to people, and figure out how we can best meet their needs.”

“By going to events and being able to talk to people in their space, not the Library’s, it reminds me why I’m doing this, and what the purpose of all of this is, and keeps me very passionate about my work,” she said. “And of course, giving kids books is the best thing in the world.”

Find more information about the Library’s outreach services here, including how to request the Library’s presence at an upcoming event. And, stay up to date on where you can see the Library in your community by checking out our events calendar.

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