NPR Report: “Your Local Library May Have a New Offering in Stock: A Resident Social Worker”
Libraries have always had far more on their plate than the stereotype of the silence-obsessed introvert who cares only for reordering the fiction section.
Libraries have been trying to ease this stress with training for staff or outside partnerships. Over the past decade, library science programs have also been steadily shifting their focus to teach more community outreach, according to Noah Lenstra, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
“Gone is the notion of the sleepy quiet library where all you hear is shush,” he says. “I think it would be important to highlight that people are feeling put out by this, but I think it would also be important to highlight people that are really embracing and thriving in this new environment.”
Still, he acknowledges, “of course some people won’t have had these classes because they got their degrees 10 or even five years ago.”
So, these days some libraries across the country are trying the approach used in Long Branch, N.J., to support librarians tasked with social work for which they weren’t formally trained: bring in a social worker who was formally trained for situations such as these. The San Francisco Public Library is credited with being the first to do so, with Leah Esguerra back in 2009.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.