A welcoming place where everybody is somebody
The library’s Social Services and Safety team ensures safety in the library and refers people to the resources they need, including those related to housing, employment, health care, immigration, and domestic violence.
The team is led by Director Robert Simmons, who joined the library as its first social worker in 2016, a direct result of the library’s intentional strategy of listening and responding to community aspirations. Since then, the team has served more than 350 vulnerable patrons. Most are Oak Park residents experiencing mental illness, homelessness, and extreme poverty.
Contact the library’s Social Services and Safety team
- Robert Simmons, Social Services Director, 708.697.6910, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Stephen Jackson, Social Services Specialist, 708.697.6908, email@example.com
More local resources
Youth Interventionist Program. Coordinates services to help young people at risk of involvement with gang activity, violence or substance abuse, working closely and collaboratively with local schools.
Community Mental Health Board. Assists in planning, developing, coordinating, evaluating, and funding mental health services in Oak Park. This includes services for persons with mental disorders, alcohol or other drug dependence or developmental disorders.
A new experience model
Joining a handful of public libraries in cities (including Denver, San Francisco, and Washington, DC) with similar social services-based positions, the library created a new Social Services and Safety Team in 2016, as part of an intentional effort to rethink how we engage with all library patrons, “including those who are vulnerable, marginalized, or at-risk, who use our facilities on a daily basis, and for whom we should be providing services,” said Executive Director David J. Seleb.
Lessons from library social workers
Listen to a recording of the American Library Association seminar “Serving At-Risk Patrons: Lessons from Library Social Workers,” co-presented by Simmons and hosted by ALA’s Public Programs Office with support from ALA’s Cultural Communities Fund.