Susan Voss-Rothmeier walks the halls of Portland’s Central Library, a bag slung over her shoulder and a clipboard of resource lists in her hands.
She looks for opportunities to discreetly approach people and quietly ask if she can be of help.
“It’s walking around and meeting people and just introducing myself,” Susan said of her typical work day. “I just keep it low-key.”
Susan is the first, and so far the only, on-site social worker contracted with the Multnomah County Library system. She’s three months into a year-long pilot program that provides free social services to patrons in crisis.
“One of the things that I’m always struck by is the degree of trust that people have in this institution,” said Vailey Oehlke, Multnomah County’s director of libraries. “That gives us some opportunities that I don’t think are necessarily always the case. It means people are willing to come to us in their most vulnerable times, they’re willing to ask for help and not worry about how that may be received. And we value that.”