Oshkosh Library staff to get social work training

Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 5:12 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - While the library is the perfect place to find a good read or get information, people often forget it’s a crucial asset to connecting people with community resources.

Today 11 state libraries are on a mission to go even further to help community members who need it most.

The Oshkosh Public Library says at least once a day employees help connect visitors with resources, whether it’s a help line or a warming shelter. While they feel the library has always been a welcoming, non-judgmental place where people can ask questions, the library is providing staff with social work training so they’re better prepared in these situations.

“Librarians and social workers are in the business to help people and help them get resources they might need,” Jeff Gilderson-Duwe, director of the Oshkosh Public Library, said.

Across the nation, public libraries are adjusting their services to cater to those looking for resources outside of borrowing a book.

“I think a lot of people feel like there are patron needs that we see in the library that. We can’t necessarily meet with our traditional methods,” said Sara Zettervall. “We do find that folks who come in maybe struggling with homelessness may be having substance abuse issues. They need to be connected with resources in the community.”

And the Oshkosh Public Library is not far behind.

“Folks have traditionally come to the library looking for help and assistance, and we just want to be more effective than that. And we think the social work field will offer us some insights that can help us be be more effective at connecting people,” Gilderson-Duwe said.

The movement is all thanks to Zettervall’s 2019 book, “The Whole Person Librarianship.” It highlights just how necessary social worker skills are for library staff.

”Having social services at the ready is another way to connect people with the information that they need and really show that the library cares about the community,” she said.

The Eau Claire and Racine public libraries have full-time social workers on their staff.

In Oshkosh, it will be a different approach.

“We are just looking to include these concepts at this point,” the library director said, “within a new customer service model that we’re designing that will give our staff clear expectations and support as far as how to go about helping people connect with community services.”

Gilderson-Duwe says the library has just begun work on this project and details are yet to be determined, but they plan to start official training in just a few months.

Copyright 2022 WBAY. All rights reserved.