Long Beach Public Library pilots social work internship program

The+new+main+branch+of+the+Long+Beach+Public+Library+system+officially+opened+during+a+celebration+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+21.+Part+of+the+new+civic-center+complex%2C+the+branch+was+named+after+Long+Beach+native+and+tennis+pro+Billie+Jean+King.
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Long Beach Public Library pilots social work internship program

The new main branch of the Long Beach Public Library system officially opened during a celebration on Saturday, Sept. 21. Part of the new civic-center complex, the branch was named after Long Beach native and tennis pro Billie Jean King.

The new main branch of the Long Beach Public Library system officially opened during a celebration on Saturday, Sept. 21. Part of the new civic-center complex, the branch was named after Long Beach native and tennis pro Billie Jean King.

Cory Bilicko | Signal Tribune

The new main branch of the Long Beach Public Library system officially opened during a celebration on Saturday, Sept. 21. Part of the new civic-center complex, the branch was named after Long Beach native and tennis pro Billie Jean King.

Cory Bilicko | Signal Tribune

Cory Bilicko | Signal Tribune

The new main branch of the Long Beach Public Library system officially opened during a celebration on Saturday, Sept. 21. Part of the new civic-center complex, the branch was named after Long Beach native and tennis pro Billie Jean King.

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To better meet the needs of patrons of the Long Beach Public Library (LBPL) who may be experiencing homelessness, mental illness or have substance use challenges, LBPL is partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services to explore models of integrating social work into its existing services.

With support from the Health Department’s Trauma and Resiliency-Informed Long Beach (TRI-LB) initiative, LBPL now has two Master’s in Social Work students from California State University Long Beach (CSULB) and the University of Southern California (USC) who are working as interns to connect LBPL patrons with social services including mental health care, legal support, food security benefits and housing resources.

“Our City’s libraries are vital to connecting communities, including our most vulnerable populations, to social work services that may lead to permanent housing or critical other services,” said Mayor Robert Garcia.

Integrating social work and libraries has been successful in other large urban public library systems. The primary role of the social work interns is to build trust with all library patrons and ultimately connect them to critical resources if needed. While the interns will not be providing individual case management, their clinical social work experience provides support within a welcoming environment to these individuals who may be in need of resources.

“The Library is a place where all are welcome, and sometimes such openness invites opportunities to provide resources beyond a quiet space to read and learn,” said Glenda Williams, Director of Library Services. “Our Social Work Intern Pilot Project is the Library’s way of proactively contributing to the City’s innovative efforts to assist people who are experiencing homelessness, mental health and addiction challenges.”

The social work interns are based at the Mark Twain Library and Billie Jean King Main Library. The pilot project is anticipated to end in May 2020. Upon completion of the pilot, project outcomes will be evaluated to determine the viability of a more comprehensive social work program at Long Beach Public Libraries.