Connecting Individuals With Social Services: The Library’s Role

SCHMEHL HINES, Samantha (2015) Connecting Individuals With Social Services: The Library’s Role. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session S12 - Satellite Meeting: Reference and Information Services. In: Reference as service and place, 11-13 August, Gaborone, Botswana.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Connecting Individuals With Social Services: The Library’s Role

As a democratic and democratizing institution, libraries have a mission to connect the public with necessary information, as well as providing free and open access to the library for all citizens. As disadvantaged people become a core user base for libraries, some libraries have begun programs to connect these people with needed social services, which ties in with librarianship’s value of promoting social justice. In the United States and Canada this has mostly been through the hiring of social workers or public health workers within public libraries, or through outreach and engagement programs focused on improving employment prospects for communities. While libraries work to become true community centers, can we expect to see more libraries connecting users with social services? And if so, how can they best accomplish this task? This paper will discuss the history of the trend and existing analysis from the perspective of librarianship and social service professionals. It will then explore current activities around the globe, discovered through surveys and interviews conducted by the author. Based on the history, existing analysis and current activities, the author will propose best practices for connecting disadvantaged library users with social services through the library.

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