Course:5: Access and Outreach
Lesson:Lesson 2: Getting the Word Out
Topic:Low-Cost Outreach Activities

Low-Cost Outreach Activities

There are many outreach activities that you can use to attract attention to your program for little cost. Below, we'll discuss some of the basic activities you can begin with. When time and money become available, you can develop additional programs.

The Basics

Is your facility user-friendly?

Keep your facility clean and pleasing to be in.

Ensure that staff knows how to interact positively with users.

Your finding aids should be organized and understandable and your reference tools easily accessible.

Post signs so it’s easy for users to navigate your building and make sure signs include your hours of operation.

Provide samples of forms users may need to fill out and a handout that explains the rules that users need to follow.

If researchers don’t find what they are looking for in your collections, try to point them in the right direction by referring them to another program that might be able to help them – don't turn them away!

This is the most basic form of outreach – making sure that your existing users are comfortable, informed, and have a good experience while they are using your collections.

Carousel of finding aids
This selection of Research Outlines and Resource Guides to the many services and resources available through the Family Research Center in Las Vegas, Nevada makes the Center extremely user-friendly!



Play the Role of Community Ambassador

Be your program’s representative and ambassador. Whenever you can, invite people to visit your archives, including local government officials, your own governing or oversight board, or members of your community.

  • Be involved and visible within your community.
  • Attend community events, especially those related to your mission.
  • Give talks to local groups and schools explaining what you do and encouraging them to visit.

In fact, talk to anyone who will listen! 

Participate in/Create Community Activities

  • Offer to help work on community celebrations and create displays or publications for these events.
  • Organize workshops for your users that will help them in their research.
  • Hold an open house.
  • Try a film night.
  • Conduct a photography or writing contest.

Join Us sign 

This family is participating in a Family History Day event.


Get It in Print!

Look for opportunities to write in local groups’ newsletters, school newsletters and newspapers, or the local newspaper. Write a short “this week in history” column, for example.


Exhibits of your historical materials are a common and excellent outreach tool. We will discuss exhibits specifically later in this course.

Combine Forces with Others

Work together. Work with the local library, school, or other historical records programs. Combining your efforts will help all of you and will provide more resources in the effort.

Will the library give you some free exhibit space if you are willing to do an hour-long “introduction to family history” workshop for them? Work together to create a brochure that highlights common collections.

Frankenmuth Historical Association held an exhibit celebrating main street dining in the town.

many hands clasped
Work with other organizations on outreach activities.