Blogger Maria Trivisonno

Connecting Families to Resources

Libraries are no longer just hallowed halls of books and learning. They have adapted throughout time, always meeting the needs of the patrons and the greater community.  First, computers, then internet access.  Nowadays, it’s common practice for libraries to offer services such as homework help and career services, food programming with local food banks, and even resource closets with household supplies.  They partner with government agencies, local housing networks, and more. 

Librarians strive to make connections. “Plugs in various colors” by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

No matter how libraries adapt, it’s impossible to offer services for all family needs.  However, that’s when the library’s role as information provider kicks in.  And that…can be complicated. 

The varied needs of families require library staff to seek out local resources…a task that can be very demanding.  In my last blog post, I discussed the FamilySpace program, which you can learn more about here.  For this pilot program, the FamilySpace team has reached out to numerous organizations. 

What are families asking for?  Some may need household items or are facing food insecurity.  Diaper drives and community baby showers are of huge interest. 

The biggest concern we’ve seen among families recently is their children’s speech.  COVID protocols have limited the socialization of some preschoolers, and so many caregivers are concerned about speech delays.  We have reached out to our local Help Me Grow for our toddlers and help the guardians of preschoolers to approach their local school districts.  We’ve talked to local speech language pathologists and speech and hearing nonprofits.

Support for children with disabilities or varying needs is also a common request. Again, we connect families with early intervention and make sure they get hooked up with school districts as soon as the child turns three years old, but we have also researched local supports, play groups, and gyms that focus on children of all abilities. 

The possibilities of making connections for our families are practically endless.  We’ve refered people to adoption/kinship networks, local park systems, home visiting programs, even an organization that gives free and discounted museum tickets to families.  I have gotten on the email lists of every organization I can think of and have a living document (read: it will never be complete!) called the Family Resource Center that lists all the opportunities we run across in our research. 

Finally, our library system has recently hired a social worker.  Library social workers have become more popular in recent years, and these positions are a very well-received resource for librarians struggling to meet the needs of all customers. 

What organizations have you referred customers to?  What am I missing?

This post addresses the core competencies of I. Commitment to Client Group and II. Reference and User Services.   

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