Creating a Person-Centered Library: Best Practices for Supporting High-Needs Patrons

Bloomsbury Libraries Unlimited. Dec. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9781440880834. pap. $54.95. PRO MEDIA
Many public libraries are expected to “do more with less,” and they struggle to provide specialized services for patrons whose needs may not be met by traditional service offerings. Wahler (Sch. of Social Work, Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte) and Johnson (Sch. of Information Sciences, Univ. of Illinois) offer suggestions for working with patrons who may be unhoused or experiencing food insecurity, substance-use disorder, mental health issues, and more. They suggest a range of potential services, including partnering with social workers, promoting health and wellness, and collaborating with external agencies. Additionally, they provide examples tailored to specific patron populations. Wahler and Johnson caution that these programs should be undertaken with intention and should be based on verified information about community needs. To this end, they include instructions on conducting needs assessments and adopting a trauma-informed approach to patron interactions. Acknowledging that libraries may need to undergo organizational change to support these programs, Wahler and Johnson provide suggestions for effecting change among library staff, patrons, and external decision-makers. Furthermore, they advocate for supporting staff members who may take on additional burdens while providing services.
VERDICT A helpful collection that will inform high-needs patron services, targeted toward public libraries but useful everywhere.
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