Community Engagement

What community engagement means for the Library, Museums and Press

At the Library, we nurture the community’s intellectual curiosity and free inquiry. Here, everyone is empowered to learn and flourish.

To ensure the success of all of our users, we share our collections, provide our expertise and collaborate with local, regional, national and international communities. We are focused on providing a welcoming environment for all who enter our physical and digital spaces:

  • Every fall and spring semester, we hold four major exhibitions in gallery spaces across the Newark campus that enable the public to engage with and explore our collections of art, minerals, and rare and unique books. All of these exhibitions are free and open to the public.
  • Throughout the year, we offer workshops that are open to the public. In the past, these workshops have focused on building skills such as grant writing, genealogical research and digital archiving of family photos and mementos.
  • To expand the range of materials the public can interact with throughout exhibitions and programming, we partner and participate with regional and national cultural organizations, museums and libraries to lend or borrow materials from our collection, and co-host exhibitions and additional programming. Recently, we hosted “DEstination: Space,” a traveling exhibition sponsored by Delaware Humanities, that chronicles Delaware’s past and present involvement with space exploration. As part of the exhibition, we provided an oral history workshop at the Wilmington Public Library that was livestreamed to the Dover Public Library and Georgetown Public Library.
  • Given our emphasis on education, we make a special point to engage with younger communities. Through a partnership with the state of Delaware, our UDLib/SEARCH program provides online databases and teacher training for Delaware K-12 public schools. We also provide outreach to K-12 schools through tours and access to the galleries.
  • To reach regional and national academic communities, we also work with other UD academic departments. For the past two summers, we have partnered with the Department of Art Conservation to provide students and faculty visiting from a variety of historically black colleges and universities with access to the galleries and our African American art collection.
  • We collaborate with local organizations to provide training to community members on how to digitize and organize collections. Through a partnership with New Castle County’s Route 9 Library and Innovation Center, we provided an instructional workshop that showed community members how to preserve their collections of family photos and documents as well as collections that help preserve the community’s local history.
  • We host robust academic programs that are open to broad audiences. Recently, we partnered with UD’s Center for Material Culture Studies to host the Black Bibliographia: Print/Culture/Art symposium, which brought in scholars from across the nation who are interested in the long understudied field of designing, printing and publishing black books. Other academic programs open to the wider community are related to our exhibitions, such as “My Art Speaks for Both My Peoples”: A Symposium on Elizabeth Catlett—a fall 2019 symposium that allows attendees to go beyond what is on display in the exhibition to dive deeper into Catlett’s life and artwork.

How community engagement relates to the mission and responsibilities of the Library

The Library is the intellectual and interdisciplinary hub of the University. As such, we support the University’s efforts to positively impact the community and offer innovative solutions to global problems.

We inspire the intellectual, scholarly and creative achievements of both University and global communities through our expert staff, excellent service, dynamic learning spaces, and access to diverse collections and information resources.

We are dedicated to:

  • Creating a welcoming environment that is open and accessible to all.
  • Providing equitable service to a diverse community of users.
  • Promoting an atmosphere of respect and civility as an essential way to strengthen these communities.
  • Embracing intercultural competence.
  • Preserving, disseminating and providing equitable access to knowledge.
  • Assisting in the creation of scholarly materials.
  • Fostering lifelong learning.
  • Supporting scholarship and critical thinking.

These values ground our strategic and operational decisions and inform the way we develop personnel, spaces, collections, services and programs.

How community engagement relates to the strategic priorities of the Library

“Partnership and Collaboration” is one of the Library’s four strategic priorities. Within that priority, there are several goals centered on community engagement:

  • Develop relationships on and off campus that preserve and protect intellectual and cultural heritage.
  • Improve education and quality of life in Delaware in support of the University’s community engagement and research efforts.
  • Investigate and take advantage of opportunities that utilize Library resources for entrepreneurial endeavors.
  • Foster cross-departmental partnerships that improve communication and build goodwill.

The aim of these community engagement-focused goals is to encourage and support the widest possible use of the rich resources available through the Library.


This statement has been included in Implementing the Civic Action Plan (January 2018-June 2019) Report to the Provost from the Community Engagement Initiative