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Library Creates New Staff Role Dedicated to Social Services

The Allen County Public Library (ACPL) is pleased to announce a new a new staff role of Social Services Coordinator. This position will play a crucial role in providing organizational and community-level assessment and intervention, staff training, community partnership development, and assistance to patrons of all ages facing mental health, substance abuse, housing, and other social issues.

 

“We’re dedicated to connecting our patrons to the services and resources they need for success,” said ACPL Executive Director Susan P. Baier. “For some patrons, that is a simple task; but for others, we need to pull in extra support. This position will help us meet that need and connect them to the resources they need in a space where they feel safe and valued.”

 

In late 2023, the ACPL Board of Trustees unanimously approved the addition of the position following a proposal from the Library’s leadership team. The position will be housed in the Human Resources department at the Main Library, but will serve and work across the entire ACPL system.

 

“As board members, and community members, we rely on the ACPL staff to know and meet our patrons’ ever-changing needs while being fiscally responsible – and they have never failed in that effort,” said ACPL Board of Trustees President Ben Eisbart. “Our mission is rooted in learning and discovery, but that is a tall order for a person who is hungry or in need. This position is absolutely crucial to ensuring all of our patrons enjoy the benefits of the community treasure that is the ACPL.”

 

The ACPL’s system of safe, clean, geographically diverse locations with convenient operating hours have led to the Library as a key destination for people of all ages facing food and housing insecurity, mental health and addictions crises, or other social concerns. From monthly resource fairs with partner social service agencies, to Narcan distribution boxes, to free summer meals with FWCS and Blessings in a Backpack – the ACPL has continuously and innovatively striven to answer this call.

 

In 2022, the Library began hosting social work interns from Indiana University who were immediately invaluable to the patrons and staff as they helped navigate the vast network of resources in the community, but also provided case management and conducted needs assessments with both patrons and staff.

 

The results of their experience, coupled with feedback from front-line staff and nationwide library trends, led ACPL leadership to recognize a critical gap.

According to Baier: “Librarians are incredible people with a wealth of knowledge and skills. But librarians are not social workers, and often the needs of patrons are beyond those the staff are equipped to manage. It places our staff in a position where they put in their full effort, yet still feel inadequate. And we risk missing important connections with patrons. We do so much, but we knew we could do more.”

 

The new position echoes a trend at libraries across the country, including the Indianapolis Public Library. Furthermore, the new position is connected to the Library’s 2024-28 strategic plan “Windows to Lifelong Learning and Discovery” as a tactic of connecting community by implementing “strategic outreach for special populations.”

 

The Social Services Coordinator is a full-time position with flexible scheduling. The ACPL encourages interested applicants with experience in social work and/or related fields, especially in youth/children services, to apply at acpl.lib.in.us/careers.

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