Like medical and health sciences libraries throughout the country, the Lamar Soutter Library (LSL) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is dealing with ever-increasing outreach needs in times of diminishing funding. With the goal of reshaping the library's outreach program to better serve our patron groups, the Outreach Study Group was formed to investigate existing models of outreach. METHODS: The group initially examined the current literature and subsequently conducted a nationwide survey of medical and health sciences libraries to identify trends in outreach. This article details the methods used for the survey, including establishing criteria for selecting participants, determining the focus, and developing and conducting the survey. RESULTS: Of the 40 libraries invited to participate, 63% completed the survey. An analysis of the data revealed successes, problems, and trends. The group's conclusions led to recommendations for the LSL's future outreach efforts. CONCLUSIONS: Analysis of the data revealed key findings in the areas of strategic planning, funding, and evaluation. A thoughtful definition of outreach ensures that outreach activities are expressions of the library's mission. Funding shifts require flexible programs. Evaluation provides data necessary to create new programs, sustain successful ones, and avoid repeating mistakes.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/nancy_harger/5/