You don’t often think about finding social workers at your local library. That’s changed in Southwest Michigan, where local libraries have received a grant to make social work professionals available to the public. The Herald Palladium reports that the grant will “make social workers and social worker interns from area universities available to talk to patrons one-on-one.”
The program is grant-funded for small and rural libraries in the area. According to the Herald Palladium, the program “aims to connect patrons with information about services available in their communities, and to develop collaborative relationships with local service agencies. Licensed social workers or interns will be available on a regular schedule, or by appointment, at each library.
This is a great way to make social workers available to the public. So many problems can be prevented, or addressed early, in ways that are preferable to dealing with a problem when it becomes a much deeper issue. An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure in such scenarios. Better still is the fact that public libraries are already places that many people are comfortable (and places they know how to find). This increases potential clients’ comfort levels and makes it more likely that they’ll take advantage of the program.
On a broader level, the idea of just letting the public talk to social workers is one that deserves more widespread application. The best way to find out how to help someone is to get them talking. When a client explains what he or she is going through, details may come out that the individual was reluctant to reveal at first. As the social worker and the potential client build rapport, the relationship becomes even more advantageous.
What do you think? Would working in this capacity at a public library be part of a beneficial training program for social worker interns? Would professional social workers also benefit from the program? Would you welcome the chance to participate in such a program if it were funded locally where you are? Please share your thoughts and input with us now. If you have participated in such a program, we definitely want to hear from you. And if you have reservations about such participation, tell us that, too.