Social Work in Public Libraries Virtual Forum Series

Multi-colored human-like figures holding hands in a line

Join us for a series of interactive virtual forums, in which a rotating panel consisting of members of the PLA Social Worker Task Force will answer your questions related to social work in public libraries. This is an opportunity to learn from the experts and engage with your peers on social service issues facing public libraries today. Attendees are encouraged to share their experiences and ask questions throughout the session.

Although no virtual forms are scheduled at this time, the archived recordings of previous forums are saved in the PLA Social Work Interest Group on ALA Connect (login required).

PLA Social Worker Task Force Members

Jean BadalamentiJean Badalamenti, MSW, is DC Public Library’s health and human services assistant manager, working in the service design and engagement office. Since 2014, she has been developing programs, creating partnerships, and training DCPL staff to support customers experiencing homelessness. Jean's most recent project equips DCPL staff with dialogue facilitation skills that support the public library as center for civic engagement and community dialogue.

LeLeah Esguerraah Esguerra, LMFT, is a California licensed marriage and family therapist. 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.

Elissa HardyElissa Hardy, LCSW is the community resource manager at the Denver Public Library in Colorado. This department consists of three other social workers and six peer navigators. The team supports and builds relationships with customers experiencing life challenges and assists them in navigating community resources to achieve their goals and improve quality of life; provides training for library staff; and engages the community in solutions in addressing social injustice.

Justine JanisJustine Janis, LCSW, AMITA Health: Justine received her MSW from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. She is a former psycho-social rehabilitation fellow through Yale and the VA in West Haven, CT. Justine was the 1st social worker at the Evanston Public Library and transitioned to Chicago Public Library to launch their initiative in September 2018.

Sarah JohnsonSarah Johnson, MLIS, LMSW, is assistant professor at Hunter College in New York City. In addition to working as a reference and instruction librarian at the Silberman School of Social Work, Sarah’s research focuses on social work students conducting field placements at public libraries. Her aim is to foster quality internships by building alliances among students, public librarians, and social work educators, with the ultimate goal of enhancing services to library patrons and their wider community. Sarah earned her MSW from the University of Denver.

Debra KeaneDebra Keane, LCSW, is the social work coordinator for Jefferson County Public Library. Her role includes connecting patrons to community resources; providing training for staff on issues related to homelessness, trauma, mental health and substance misuse, and providing leadership for the library system on meeting the needs of the community. She received her MSW from the University of Illinois and is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in Colorado.

Patrick LloydPatrick Lloyd, LMSW, the first social worker ever hired by the City of Georgetown, TX, is the community resources coordinator at the Georgetown Public Library. Working within a suburban community, Patrick’s work is holistic in nature and includes assessment and referral of patrons with diverse needs, identification of local resource gaps, advocating for expansion of social service capacity within the city, and serving as a liaison between city staff and local nonprofit agencies.

Lee PattersonLee Patterson manages the social work program at Richland Library, the only library social work program in the state of South Carolina. In this department Lee works with a team of ten social workers to provide programs, information, referrals, and resources to the community. Lee earned her Masters of Social Work in 2012 from the University of South Carolina (USC). In 2014, Lee received the Heart of the Midlands award from SC Thrive for her advocacy and work in the community.

Jason PearlJason Pearl, MSW, is a community resource specialist at the Kansas City (MO) Public Library. In his role Jason creates programming, develops community partnerships, and provides agency referrals and direct assistance for patrons who are experiencing life challenges. Additionally, Jason oversees a community resource team comprised of MSW interns and AmeriCorps VISTAs that serve as liaisons between library staff and patrons who are under-resourced.

David PerezDavid Perez, MSW was born and raised in The Bronx, NY. This is David's third career. He was a soldier in the Army for ten years. He also has a Business undergraduate degree, with a healthcare management concentration and prior to becoming a library social worker, worked in the healthcare field for over 15 years. He received his MSW in 2017. He is now the social work and diversity services manager at the Long Branch Free Public Library in New Jersey.