January 26, 2022

Maryland: “Baltimore Bets on a New Type of First Responder: The Librarian”

From The Trace:

One day in June, the employees of the Enoch Pratt Free Library gathered online to learn something new: how to de-escalate conflict, mediate grief, and help people feel better about themselves.

They got instruction from Lawrence Brown, a professor at Morgan State University who trains organizations on racial equity, then broke out into smaller private sessions where they had tough, but open, conversations about healing their own and their city’s trauma.

“There was conversation about understanding history and the impact on neighborhoods in current Baltimore,” said Heidi Daniel, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library system. “We are focused on questioning how the library can play a role in healing inequities and examining our internal policies and practices to do better work.”


The work is in its earliest stages. Library staff has been trained, and the plan is to roll out similar sessions to the public through libraries. Each branch will specialize in a different type of training, delivered by one of Baltimore’s social aid organizations. If a person wants to learn about dealing with grief, they can head to a library branch that is working with Roberta’s House, a family grief center. If someone wants to learn about restorative justice, there will be a branch focused on that skill. The city expects to make an announcement about a bigger rollout of this plan in the coming weeks.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.