Social Work in Public Libraries

Social Work in Public Libraries
Public Libraries are integral community hubs that play an important role in serving the needs of their local communities. More specifically, public libraries serve the needs of vulnerable and marginalized populations by providing safe and welcoming spaces, access to free services, opportunities to learn and connections to community service providers. Libraries have continued to rise to the challenges they face in new and innovative ways by hiring Social Workers to better serve the needs of their customers. 

This session will focus on the ways in which Mississauga, Kitchener and Toronto Public Libraries have included Social Workers in their libraries, the impact on their patrons and the innovative services that have developed to meet the needs of vulnerable populations in their communities

You will learn: 

1) How different Ontario Libraries Systems are engaging marginalized communities. 

2) Best Practice for Social Work in a Library Space

3) Micro, Mezzo and Micro approaches to Social Work in Libraries 


Kevin Berry is an Outreach Worker with “The Open Window Hub” at the Mississauga Public Library System, which supports marginalized and vulnerable customers accessing the 18 branches across the system. The notable success and value of the program prompted the Mississauga Library to explore making the Open Window a permanent service. Kevin has a BSW from Ryerson University and a MSW from the University of Windsor. Kevin has accumulated over 23 years of diverse experience in the social service field within the areas of homelessness, family violence, addictions, criminal justice system, mental health, crisis response and trauma.

A Social Justice advocate, Rahma combines therapeutic and systemic lens in social work practice. She has an MSW from the University of Toronto and is a Certified Change Agent (CCA). Rahma supports the service delivery of library services to vulnerable populations and is aiming to foster impactful and productive partnerships with the community. Prior to TPL, she designed and delivered programs to vulnerable populations in the non-profit sector, where she addressed issues of violence and bullying, diversity, social inclusion, as well as access and equity. In addition, she supported the implementation of a human-centered design project in the public sector.

Caleb Redekop is the Community Outreach Coordinator at the Kitchener Public Library. His role is focused on engaging marginalized population groups that use the Library space with a focus on individuals experiencing homelessness and/or substandard housing situations. His background is in the Social Service sector where he worked for 5 years in the areas of homelessness, mental health and addictions. He has a passion for community spaces where all feel safe, welcomed and valued.
9/26/2019 1:00 PM - 9/26/2019 2:15 PM

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