Acknowledging that reality, libraries in Tucson, Ariz., have become the first in the nation to provide registered nurses along with their other services. Placing nurses in six branches is a nod to the widely accepted transition of public libraries into de facto community centers.
“The need in our libraries has always been there. We’ve always been a place for the underserved,” said Karyn Prechtel, deputy director of public services for Pima County Public Library. “Before, we were trying to address those needs ourselves, as librarians, but without the training there was only so much we can do to help these folks. Librarians feel a little bit like their hands are tied.”
Pima County’s program began in January 2012 with a single nurse who divided her time among six of the system’s 27 branches. By midyear, the program expanded to five nurses who share one full-time employee slot.
The county came up with the idea after San Francisco Public Library become the first in the nation to hire its own social worker in 2010.
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Kudos to the Pima County Public Library in Tucson. This program makes sense on for multiple reasons. Where can librarian expertise be embedded outside the physical building?
Also, a tip o’ the cap (well said) to the person who shares the following comment below the MSNBC post, “This headline [of the report] is hilarious. Libraries have been “more than just books” for a long time now.”