Library-social work at ALA: Another opportunity

One of the Ignite sessions at ALA will be on library-social work collaboration:

Social justice in libraries: social work roots and the progressive library mission
Saturday, June 24
11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (presentation will be 5 minutes within this time frame)
Location: McCormick Place, W183a

Although short, this will be a nice counterpart to our session since it seems to include some historical context that we do not.

In the future, if you know of any sessions anyone if offering on this topic, whether virtual or in person, state or national level, please consider this a venue for sharing out that information. (For example, a little bird told me there might have been a panel on this at the Texas library association conference…) Send anything our way, and we’re happy to post it here.

Panel at ALA on Whole Person Librarianship

Please join us at the ALA Annual Conference for a PLA-sponsored panel!

Whole Person Librarianship: Libraries and Social Workers in Collaboration
Sunday, June 25, 2017
McCormick Place, W178a

Since San Francisco Public Library became the first in the world to hire a full-time social worker in 2007, the interest in library-social work collaboration has grown exponentially. Urban, suburban, and rural libraries are creating scalable partnerships, from hosting interns to social service office hours to full-time hires. This panel of librarians and social service providers builds on a standing-room-only 2015 Conversation Starter on the same topic. We’ll provide practical examples of successful collaborations, and we’ll also discuss how these partnerships inspire new approaches to providing excellent library service. This session also ties into a book forthcoming from Libraries Unlimited.


Sara Zettervall
Librarian, Hennepin County Library
Founder, Whole Person Librarianship

Mary Nienow
Social Work PhD Candidate
University of Minnesota

Ashley Horn
Social Work Program Coordinator
Brooklyn Public Library

Heather Lowe
Adult Services Administrator
Dallas Public Library

Sarah Johnson
Visiting Assistant Professor, Reference and Instruction Librarian
Hunter College Libraries

Whole Person Librarianship webinar available on Webjunction

The webinar Mary and I presented in March is available as an archived recording with activities and additional resources:

Whole Person Librarianship: Fostering Empathy in Challenging Times

Also, thanks to everyone who completed our survey! The response rate was even better than we hoped. If you indicated interest in further involvement or communication, we’ll be in touch soon.

Take our survey! on library-social work collaboration

Help us help you! Please complete this survey for our forthcoming book by Saturday, April 15, 2017:

Completing this survey will:

  • Tell us what librarians and social workers already know (or don’t know) about library-social work collaboration, so we can shape the content of the book to your needs.
  • Give you a frame for self-assessment: your answers can point you to where you can learn more.
  • Provide the opportunity for you to connect with us and share your library’s story in a case study (optional).

The book on Whole Person Librarianship will be published by Libraries Unlimited, likely in 2019.

Please email us if you have any questions. Thanks for your help!

Sara Zettervall
Mary Nienow

The fine print/official letter of invitation:

We are working on a study to better understand how librarians and social workers are working together in collaboration and partnership across the country. We are also looking to understand what information, knowledge and skills librarians and social workers need to establish effective partnerships. As a (librarian/social worker), you can provide us with much valuable information concerning this topic. We ask your help in completing the on-line Qualtrics survey.

The survey should take approximately 15-30 minutes to complete. Your participation in this research is completely voluntary. If you agree to participate, you may choose not to answer any given questions, and you may withdraw your consent and discontinue your participation at any time while taking the survey. If you determine you do not want your data used after submitting the survey we will be unable to honor your request because all returned surveys will be anonymous and there will be no way for us to disaggregate your data.

In this survey, there are no known risks beyond the inconvenience of time. We hope that you will choose to complete this survey. The results of this survey may be presented at international, national and state conferences as well as publications. Please feel free to share this link with other interested individuals or colleagues. If you have any questions about this project or the results please contact Mary Nienow or Sara Zettervall.

The distribution of this survey has been approved by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects.  If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment as a participant in this study, please contact Dr. Michael Axelrod, Chair, Institutional Review Board for Protection of Human Subjects, Schofield 17, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, WI, 54702-4004, (715) 836-2373.  Thank you for your time and cooperation.

Google Map of WPL Libraries

Here’s a Google Map with libraries that engage in library-social work collaboration at a variety of levels.

Who did I miss? Email me or comment below with the library name and what they’re doing (or, even better, a news link if it exists), and I’ll add to the map.

Whole Person Librarianship Webinar on WebJunction

Whole Person Librarianship: Fostering Empathy in Challenging Times

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
2:00-3:00pm Central Time
Register for free

Libraries are among the few public spaces that feel safe and welcoming to everyone in our current political landscape. As librarians striving to provide equitable service, we are challenged to meet the needs of patrons whose life experiences are markedly different from our own. To address these challenges, we have much to learn much from social workers, who are trained to approach their clients with empathy while maintaining professional boundaries. Whole Person Librarianship draws from social work concepts to help librarians become more confident in learning from, interacting with, and serving diverse patrons. Learn basic ideas to build your empathy skills, such as cultural humility and person-in-environment, to apply right away to your library practice, as well as where to find more in-depth information and support.

Presented by: Sara Zettervall, Founder, Whole Person Librarianship, and Adult Services Librarian, Hennepin County Library (MN); and Mary Nienow, PhD Candidate in Social Work, and beginning in August 2017, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (WI)

WPL: The Book! and more

First, the big news: Mary Nienow and I signed a contract late last year to write a book on Whole Person Librarianship for Libraries Unlimited. This is going to be a long and fruitful journey over the next two years – and we need your help to make it the best it can be.

Later this winter/spring, we’ll be reaching out with a survey and contribution opportunities for professionals who are involved in library-social service collaboration in all its varieties, from social work interns all the way up through library directors who forged a path to full-time social work hires.

Though we’re still in the planning stage, I wanted to announce this is coming because I will be at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta this month and would love to meet with anyone else who may be attending. Are you deep into this work? Do you just have some questions about it? Hit me up (sara -at-, and let’s find a time to chat. I’ve also reserved an hour in the Networking Uncommons on Sunday morning from 10:30-11:30 11:00am-noon where I’ll be available for drop-in conversations.

Stay tuned for many more exciting developments throughout 2017. Happy new year!