Patrons in crisis often turn to the public library as a space for support in finding health and social services resources. Boston Public Library actively meets the needs of a variety of people in crisis, including those experiencing homelessness, people suffering from substance abuse, and survivors of domestic violence, for example. To address these various service needs, Boston Public Library made changes to staffing and hired a social worker. The goal of this project is to help further address these service challenges by identifying specific needs of these user groups and ways in which staff can engage with them. The project consists of two phases. This first is a series of focus groups designed at examining ways in which library staff can build service capacity and engage with patrons in crisis. The second phase involves building on identification of department and branch service issues to develop workshops designed to help address the concerns identified by staff. In particular, these will focus on providing training on topics such as mental health first aid, responding to substance abuse, and a workshop on using MedlinePlus.
Simmons College, School of Library and Information Science