Session: Transforming Public Spaces to Promote Social Inclusion and Trauma Informed Care: A Library-Social Work Partnership (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

312 Transforming Public Spaces to Promote Social Inclusion and Trauma Informed Care: A Library-Social Work Partnership

Sunday, January 19, 2020: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Liberty Ballroom I, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Social Work Practice (SWP)
Jennifer Elkins, PhD, University of Georgia, Mary Caplan, Ph.D., University of Georgia, Caroline Sharkey, MSW, University of Georgia, Valerie Bell, MLS, Athens Regional Library System and Anna Scheyett, PhD, University of Georgia
“I've always felt unequal because I'm homeless. People have always looked through me or avoided me. I've felt shunned by the human race just because I don't have a job. In the last year I feel like I've become a member of the library community. People know my name and talk with me, not to me. I count.” -patron speaking of the Homeless Engagement Initiative at Dallas Public Library. Settlement houses were a comprehensive approach to building collective capacity within communities, addressing needs, and serving as a centralized source of information on resources. Today, the public library serves many of these purposes, acting as a centralized source of information (Moxley & Abbas, 2016) and a safe space for vulnerable populations such as homeless individuals (Ruhlman, 2014). There is a recent trend towards libraries hiring social workers to serve these patrons (Hester, 2017; Torknya, 2015). Vulnerable library patrons are likely to have histories of trauma, however, libraries are often unaware of these trauma-related issues. As libraries shift from transactions to increased interactions, social workers can collaborate with libraries to better address the trauma-related needs. Schools of social work can also provide technical expertise to library staff regarding how to best intervene in crises, offer resources, link with community resources, and build a welcoming library. This roundtable examines the strategies, impact, and lessons learned from a federally funded academic-community partnership integrating a trauma-informed framework into a regional public library to address the growing needs of vulnerable patrons in accessing local community resources and supports. Panelists representing the perspectives of the research team and community team will begin with an overview of the research-informed, community-driven project. Specifically we will outline three main components: (1) social work resource and referral services; (2) staff training and education on trauma and trauma-informed care; and (3) contextual assessment and intervention to inform library policies. Panelists will next discuss how researchers, direct practice supports, and library staff collaborated to implement and evaluate a trauma-informed framework in libraries that facilitates social inclusion and addresses racial and economic inequality. Finally, panelists will discuss accomplishments, challenges, lessons learned and next steps for developing best practices. It will conclude with an interactive discussion about implications and strategies for developing, implementing and evaluating innovative culturally responsive, trauma informed and community based interventions that: (i) reduce disenfranchisement and social exclusion, and (ii) promote racial and economic justice.
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