Since re-opening to the public, the libraries in my system have encountered more and more families in need of referrals to other agencies for food, other essentials, support for special needs, parenting, etc. We are especially finding this in our Kindergarten Readiness programming. More than half of these children’s lives have been lived since the pandemic began, and, understandably, parents have been at times reluctant to have their children involved in activities outside of the home, even regarding assistance for special needs.
I am hopeful this trend will change now with the ability to vaccinate at 6 months. However, we will still see several cohorts of children affected by this isolation.
Some of these needs the library can address directly. We work with our local foodbank to offer summer lunch programs at our eligible branches. All branches have granola bars available to feed hungry kids on demand. Several branches offer food pantries once a month—I’ve seen the line of cars backed up to the street. Four of our branches have a hygiene closet, where families with children under 18 can find personal care supplies including feminine products, hair and teeth products and deodorant as well as laundry detergent.
Some things, however, are outside of our ability in the library. And this is when we must refer our customers to community partners.
My current subheadings in this everchanging document include fatherhood, food and household good assistance, health and safety, literacy, parenting, play, pre-natal and post-birth assistance, and special needs.
How does your library inform their staff of community agencies that can help your customers?
This post addresses the core competencies of I. Commitment to Client Group, II. Reference and User Services and V. Outreach and Advocacy.