Social Services

The library’s Social Services and Public Safety team ensures safety in the library and refers people to resources for housing, employment, health care, immigration, domestic violence, and more.

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

Meet our team

How we serve

The team serves individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, and mental health and substance abuse disorders. The team helps connect people to information and resources such as advocacy and service referrals for housing, employment, health care, immigration, domestic violence, and more.

New! Free mental health assessments. By appointment, children and adults can receive free mental health assessments conducted by Rush University Medical Center psychologists at the Main Library. To learn more and schedule an appointment on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm, please contact Director Robert Simmons at 708.697.6910 or RobertS@oppl.org.

Read more about services provided »

Resources from the library collection

Libraries exist to help people find the information they need.

Libraries also are big supporters of confidentiality of circulation records, data privacy and empowering every voice.

No matter what your age, you can check out books from any floor of the library.

Here is a short list of where to find resources related to mental health and wellness »

Community resources

The team maintains relationships with organizations throughout the entire Chicago area, to connect people to the services and resources they need. Here are some key resources in the Oak Park area.

Why have social workers at the library?

Robert Simmons joined the library in 2016 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 Public Safety team has served hundreds of vulnerable patrons. Most are Oak Park residents experiencing mental illness, homelessness, and extreme poverty.

The decision to hire a social worker was part of rethinking how we engage with all patrons, “including those who are vulnerable, marginalized, or at-risk, who use our facilities on a daily basis, and for whom we should be providing services,” said Executive Director David J. Seleb.

It was also part of a growing trend for public libraries, including those in Evanston, Denver, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. “Around the nation, public libraries have become de facto community health centers for people who don’t have access to other resources,” Simmons said.

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