Whole Person Librarianship: The Class

Just kidding, sort of… I don’t think I’m going to call it that, but we (I + Paul Lai + Professor Emeritus Mary Wagner) are beginning work on a 1-credit class on the intersection of social work and librarianship for the St. Kate’s MLIS program’s J Term. In preparation, I’ve started adding some things to our Zotero library and welcome comments on and suggested additions to that.

I’m also starting to outline what we might cover in terms of topic areas. It looks like if we have 3-hour evening classes (pretty standard at St. Kate’s), we will need to meet five times, so right now I’m looking at five topics, each with its own guest speaker. These are in no particular order yet, except for the first one:

  1. Introduction to social work principles and evidence-based practice. Guest speaker: someone from the St. Kate’s SW faculty, or my trusty sidekick, Mary Nienow.
  2. Health care and public librarians. This couldn’t be more timely, and now OCLC is starting to come out with training materials, which would mean a rich base of resources for homework and discussion. Possible guest speaker:  a clinical social worker and/or public library manager.
  3. Libraries and the homeless. Although we think of this mostly in terms of public libraries, academic libraries grapple with homeless library users as well. I expect that we’ll focus primarily on public libraries, but this does make me wonder what kind of response other types of libraries have come up with. Possible guest speaker: Amy Mars, librarian who has worked on setting up deposit collections in homeless shelters.
  4. Services for older adults. In the small amount of info collection I’ve done so far, I’ve already seen at least a couple of interesting-looking collaborations around this topic pop up in the literature. Personally, I need to explore this a bit further, but it seems promising. Possible guest speaker: Joyce Yukawa, St. Kate’s MLIS professor with a special interest in this area.
  5. School social workers and literacy. Schools will often have a social worker onsite even when they don’t have a librarian, and I’ve previously written here about some of my thoughts on that. Just seems ready-made for collaboration. Possible guest speaker: the school social worker who brought Little Free Libraries to MNIC.

This is just a start to my own thoughts, without input yet from Paul and Mary, which is coming soon. I’m sure they’d join me in saying we’re open to any suggestions for topics and resources.

I’m hoping this class can build on the session I’m moderating at this fall’s Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference (yes, I’m burying that particular lede all the way down here: we have a session!). “…and Social Justice for All: How Can Librarians and Social Workers Collaborate?” might ask some of the questions that the class will answer more fully. I will, of course, plan to write up the session here, and should the class come to fruition, it will include assignments for students to write for the blog as well. As always, your thoughts are more than welcome every step of the way!

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