Social Services

The library’s Social Services and Public Safety team ensures safety in the library and refers people to resources for housing, employment, health care, immigration, domestic violence, and more.

Teen Services Coordinator Stephen Jackson, Supervisor of Public Safety Aaron Alonzo, and Director of Social Services and Public Safety Robert Simmons

Responding to COVID-19

Because the COVID-19 outbreak is a public health and economic crisis, the Flexible Rental Assistance Program (FRAP) is available to those who require financial support to maintain or secure stable housing.   This program, which is conducted through Housing Forward, provides individuals and families who are at risk or experiencing homelessness with emergency financial assistance that is aimed towards preventing homelessness or aiding those that are in between stable housing. To stay up to date on news, go to www.housingforward.org/covid-19-updates

Contact Suburban Cook Call Center at 877.426.6515 to be pre-screened over the phone to determine initial eligibility for services. Walk-in’s welcome at Entry Point Walk-In Center, 6634 W. Roosevelt Rd., 2nd Floor, Oak Park.

Meet our team

How we serve

Libraries exist to help people find and connect with the information they need.

Our Social Services and Public Safety team serves individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, and mental health and substance abuse disorders. The team connects people to information and resources such as advocacy and service referrals for housing, employment, health care, immigration, domestic violence, and more.

CURRENTLY ON HOLD during library building closures: Free mental health assessments. By appointment, children and adults can receive free mental health assessments conducted by Rush University Medical Center psychologists at the Main Library. To learn more and schedule an appointment on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm, please contact Director Robert Simmons at 708.697.6910 or RobertS@oppl.org.

Read more about services provided »

Finding resources in the library’s collection

Libraries also are big supporters of confidentiality of circulation records, data privacy and empowering every voice.

No matter what your age, you can check out books from any floor of the library.

Click here to review a short list of where to find library materials related to mental health and wellness »

Collaborating with local agencies

The team collaborates and maintains relationships with more than 40 organizations throughout the entire Chicago area, connecting people to the services and resources they need. Here are some key partners and resources in the Oak Park area.

Why have social workers at the library?

Robert Simmons joined the library in 2016 as its first social worker, a direct result of the library’s intentional strategy of listening and responding to community aspirations. Since then, the Social Services and Public Safety team has served hundreds of vulnerable patrons. Most are Oak Park residents experiencing mental illness, homelessness, and extreme poverty.

The decision to hire a social worker was part of rethinking how we engage with all 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.

It was also part of a growing trend for public libraries, including those in Evanston, Denver, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. “Around the nation, public libraries have become de facto community health centers for people who don’t have access to other resources,” Simmons said.

Stay current on news and new arrivals.