How can social services reduce barriers, build bridges, and create inclusive library environments?
In this course, you will compare the core values of librarians and social workers and learn how they can be applied to overcome barriers our library customers encounter when experiencing life challenges. You will examine educational opportunities that empower customers and staff through role modeling, collection development, and program suggestions to shift the community culture towards inclusivity. At the conclusion of the course, you will have a vision of how your library could expand its ability to serve the community through intentional and strategic practices, as well as ways to build a case for support to meet your community’s unique needs.
At a glance
- Articulating the needs and barriers of your community through data and stories
- Identifying proactive approaches to reach your most vulnerable library customers
- Understanding the full spectrum of services a social worker can provide within the flow of library work
- Building a sustainable infrastructure to support library social worker collaboration
- Students are expected to review the material each week and actively participate on the discussion boards.
- There will be a final project based on the guidelines and course materials to develop a plan to embed social services in your library.
Libby Richter holds a Master’s Degree in Mental Health and Social Work from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. She is the community resource specialist for the public library in Eau Claire, WI. She works with customers to help them overcome challenges in their daily lives. She has led a team that focused on creating systemic change to end homelessness, co-chaired a committee that promotes healthy relationships to cultivate a stronger community, and continues to serve on various committees addressing mental health, housing, and food insecurities in the community. She has worked in libraries since she was 16, has jumped at the opportunity to combine her passions, and enjoys sharing this passion with others.
Pamela Westby is the library director at the public library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She holds an MLIS from the University of North Texas – Denton and has worked in public libraries in Minnesota and Wisconsin for more than 30 years. Over the years she has served in various library leadership roles at the state-wide level, advocated for legislative funding to increase library services to diverse populations, and was instrumental in the initiation of Eau Claire’s first full-time library social worker. Pamela believes that now, more than ever, libraries play an important role in their communities.