PLA’s trauma-informed framework for supporting patrons

For Immediate Release
Mon, 03/07/2022


Rob Christopher

Marketing Coordinator

ALA Publishing & Media

American Library Association


CHICAGO — Whether it’s navigating a crisis or witnessing a community member struggling with tough times, coming face to face with trauma and adversity can be uncomfortable. But in striving to learn more about challenging behaviors, and how we can better interact with library patrons and our coworkers, we can come to see that people are complex and not simply “problems.” “A Trauma-Informed Framework for Supporting Patrons: The PLA Workbook of Best Practices,” published by ALA Editions in collaboration with the Public Library Association (PLA), provides a collection of powerful tools to add to your customer service toolbox. Presented by the PLA Social Worker Task Force, it’s filled with prompts, exercises, and best practices that shed light on how trauma can affect people, helping you build confidence in your ability to support your library’s patrons. You will:

  • delve into what trauma is and how it impacts library work; 
  • be introduced to a framework for utilizing a trauma-informed lens in your interactions; 
  • practice exercises to spur personal reflection on common concerns bound up with library work and the policies relating to these issues; and 
  • gain hand-on tools and techniques, including strategies for de-escalation and guidance on the impacts of involving law-enforcement and banning patrons.

You will also explore various scenarios which provide the opportunity to integrate what you’ve learned and practice responding through a trauma-informed lens, including:

  • Mental Health Challenges
  • Sleeping at the Library
  • Strong Personal Odor
  • Personal Belongings
  • Suspected Intoxication/Under the Influence
  • Substance Use
  • Threatening Verbal and Nonverbal Behavior
  • Unsheltered Teens
  • Adult Self-Neglect
  • Child Abuse or Assault
  • Solicitation or Panhandling
  • Stealing
  • Child Unattended After Closing

The Public Library Association Social Worker Task Force develops and recommends a strategic and coordinated approach for PLA related to how public libraries address the social service needs of customers. A division of the American Library Association, PLA’s core purpose is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve. Its mission is to enhance the development and effectiveness of public library staff and public library services.

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