Supporting Our Patrons

Meeting the needs of people in crisis at the Boston Public Library

Photo of flags hanging outside Boston Public Library

Patrons in crisis often turn to the public library as a space for support in finding health and social services resources. Boston Public Library actively meets the needs of a variety of people in crisis, including those experiencing homelessness, people suffering from substance abuse, and survivors of domestic violence, for example. The goal of this project is to help further address these service challenges by identifying specific needs of these clients and ways in which staff can engage with them. The project consists of two phases. This first is a series of focus groups designed at examining ways in which library staff can build service capacity and engage with patrons in crisis. The second phase involves building on identification of department and branch service issues to develop workshops designed to help address the concerns identified by staff. We are also looking at the broader implications of this work in terms of training future librarians with curriculum oriented around understanding these challenges, along with pursuing partnerships between social work and library and information studies.


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