Resources to reflect on, to share & to take action

Main Library Third Floor book stacks

As your public library, we are here for you and have compiled a list of library, local, and regional resources focusing on: Mental health and trauma assistance Gun violence Voting and legislation Misinformation Books and library resources Mental health & trauma assistance  For all ages Managing distress in the aftermath of a shooting from the … Read more

Our new manager of public safety asks, ‘How can I empower others?’

As our library’s approach to public safety has evolved over the past five years, library staff member Aaron Alonzo has grown along with it. He started at the library in 2017 in a part-time role, and has since worked to become a leader in the organization. This month, Alonzo was promoted to Manager of Public Safety. … Read more

Mental health: Reaching people where they are

Free-Mental-Health-Assessments

Thanks to a unique partnership with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, people without adequate health care coverage have been receiving confidential mental health assessments from a licensed clinical psychologist at the Main Library since last fall. “Rush University Medical Center is recognizing that our library is where people are coming every day,” says the … Read more

Free mental health assessments available

Free-Mental-Health-Assessments

The library, in partnership with Rush University Medical Center is offering free mental health assessments (through prescheduled appointments) for children, teens, and adults on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Main Library. A Rush psychologist will conduct the onsite assessment. To learn more about these free assessments and to schedule an appointment, … Read more

Removing assumptions, barriers to access

Oak Park Stories

“People make a lot of assumptions about who is experiencing homelessness, based on how someone looks, acts, smells, or dresses,” said the library’s Director of Social Services and Safety Robert Simmons. “But really, you don’t know if someone is homeless unless they tell you.” As the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition notes in its 2016 Plan … Read more

A welcoming place, where everybody is somebody

Teen Services Coordinator Stephen Jackson, Supervisor of Safety and Security Aaron Alonzo, and Social Services Director Robert Simmons

In March 2016, Robert Simmons joined the library as its first social worker, a direct result of the library’s intentional strategy of listening and responding to community aspirations. Since then, the Social Services and Safety team he’s built has served more than 350 vulnerable patrons. Most are Oak Park residents experiencing mental illness, homelessness, and … Read more

Stronger together

Last March, as part of our strategy to rethink how we engage with all patrons, we hired a social worker—a first for us, but part of a growing trend for public libraries, including those in Evanston, Denver, and Washington, DC. “Around the nation, public libraries have become de facto community health centers for people who … Read more

A new experience model

olmes Elementary teacher Drew Finkbeiner and Oak Park Public Library's Rob Simmons shaking hands.

Rethinking how we engage with all patrons In his first week as Social Services and Safety Director, Robert Simmons found the demand for his social work advocacy and referral services even greater than expected. “The library provides a snapshot of the overwhelming discrepancy between the haves and the have-nots,” Simmons said. “Oak Park is only … Read more

Manager for Community Resources hired

Rob Simmons, Director of Social Services and Safety

Robert A. Simmons has accepted the library’s new full-time position of Manager for Community Resources. His first day in this new library role will be Monday, March 7. Joining a handful of public libraries in cities (including Denver, San Francisco, and Washington, DC) with similar social services-based positions, the library created the new role in late 2015. Primary responsibilities will include working … Read more

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