PLA at 2019 ALA Annual Conference

2019 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition logoPLA Preconference:
Librarians and Social Workers: Partnerships that Work for Connecting People in Need

Friday, June 21
9:00 AM–12:00 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 103A
Event Code: PLA1
Separate registration required

Libraries increasingly find themselves on the front lines of addressing growing needs around homelessness, immigration, incarceration, opioid use, aging, and more in our communities. Over the past 10 years, many public libraries have turned to social workers to help them respond to these and other life challenges our community members are facing. Libraries that cannot afford to hire a dedicated social worker can partner with community agencies to develop library social service programs. This PLA session highlights best practices, particularly in the realm of community partnerships, and provides resources to better equip libraries to serve patrons experiencing life challenges. Cosponsored by ODLOS and YALSA.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this preconference, participants will:

  • Identify key issues and options for public libraries to consider in assisting library patrons experiencing homelessness, mental health issues, and other challenges;
  • Apply recommendations and best practices from public library social workers to interactions with patrons experiencing life challenges; and
  • Define the characteristics of a successful partnership between public libraries and community agencies or other organizations serving patrons in need.


Jean BadalamentiJean Badalamenti, MSW, is DC Public Library’s health and human services assistant manager, working in the Service Design and Engagement office. Jean has been with DCPL for four-plus years and leads system-wide initiatives in a variety of areas. Since 2014, she has been developing programs, creating partnerships, and training DCPL staff to support customers experiencing homelessness. Jean’s most recent project has been developing and coordinating a skill-building program to equip DCPL staff with dialogue facilitation skills that support the public library as center for civic engagement and community dialogue. Jean is currently the co-chair of the PLA Social Work Task Force and has worked in health and human services in DC for over 25 years.

Leah EsguerraLeah Esguerra is a California licensed marriage and family therapist and an employee of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. She is the nation’s first full-time library social worker with San Francisco Public Library. Leah manages the SFPL Social Service Program which consists of six health and safety associates (HASAs) who are library outreach workers with lived experience with homelessness. The library social service team under Leah’s supervision has received national and international attention in the library community and has proved to be a model on which other libraries have created their own programs. Leah speaks nationally on providing social services in a library setting and as an advocate for people experiencing homelessness and mental health issues.

Elissa HardyElissa Hardy, LCSW, is the community resource manager at the Denver Public Library. This department consists of three other social workers and four peer navigators. Her role also includes providing training for library staff in the areas of trauma informed services, homelessness, mental health, resiliency, and more. The community resource team connects with Denver’s citizens utilizing the library who are experiencing life challenges. The team works to support and build relationship with people and assist them in navigating community resources to achieve their goals and improve quality of life. Elissa also teaches courses on policy; mental health, substance use, trauma and recovery; and power, privilege, and oppression at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver.

Justine JanisJustine Janis, LCSW, received her MSW from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. She is a former Yale Psycho-social Rehabilitation Fellow through VA in West Haven, CT. After launching the library social work program in Evanston, IL from 2017-2018, she transitioned to Chicago Public Library to help create their pilot program. She also leads a national library social work call, connecting other library social workers for consultation and support, and serves on the Public Library Association’s Library Social Work Task force. Justine is passionate about community work and advocating for individuals who have a mental health condition.

David PerezDavid Perez, serves as social work and diversity services manager for the Long Branch (NJ) Free Public Library and is the first social worker hired directly by a public library in the state of New Jersey. He previously served in the U.S. Army and worked in the healthcare industry. David is the current vice president of the New Jersey Library Association’s (NJLA) Diversity and Outreach Section and the incoming president of the section. He is also an active member of the PLA Library Social Work Task Force and supervises Monmouth University (West Long Branch, NJ) social work student interns.

Ticket Prices

Category Advance
(by Noon Central June 14, 2019)
PLA Personal Member $80 $80
ALA Personal Member $120 $120
Other Member
(Retired, Student, Life, Trustee, Non-Salaried, and Support Staff)
$120 $120
Nonmember $120 $120


You can register for this PLA Preconference (event code: PLA1) with or without an ALA Annual Conference registration. Register now!

Open this event in the ALA Annual Conference Scheduler, then add it to your personal schedule (login required) and/or download it to your calendar.