This article examines different outreach strategies in academic libraries in Canada, the United States and China. It analyzes the possibilities and concerns of community outreach and argues that community outreach by libraries is the best approach to respond to the increasing significance of community engagement in academic environment. Drawing on the outreach program at the University of Toronto Libraries, this paper demonstrates that academic libraries can effectively connect resources and enable interactions between scholars and the public. These connections and interactions ultimately lead to the preservation and generation of knowledge and understanding. Available outreach examples are investigated and classified into four major categories: 1) community access, 2) information literacy, 3) cooperation, exchange and partnership, and 4) exhibitions and scholarly events. In each category the trends and values are illustrated by representative cases discussed in literature and the activities organized by the author in his capacity as the Director of the Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library, and the Chair of the International and Community Outreach Committee at the University of Toronto Libraries. The discussion and analysis of the diverse outreach activities in this article provide guidance and suggestions for academic librarians who are interested in outreach and community engagement of any scale and nature. Cases are draw from a wide spectrum and are particularly strong in the setting of large academic libraries, special collections and programming for multicultural populations.
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