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.
Contact the team
- Robert Simmons, Director of Social Services and Public Safety, 708.697.6910, RobertS@oppl.org
- Stephen Jackson, Teen Services Coordinator, 708.697.6908, StephenJ@oppl.org
- Aaron Alonzo, Supervisor of Public Safety, AaronA@oppl.org
The Social Services and Public Safety team serves individuals and families, especially those experiencing homelessness, poverty, and mental health and substance abuse disorders. They can help you access information, advocacy, and service referrals for housing, employment, health care, immigration, domestic violence, and more. Read more about services they provide »
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.
We want to help you find the information you need, and we understand there are some things you want to keep private. For your convenience, the library offers self-checkout machines. No matter what your age, you can check out books from any floor of the library. Your checkout records are private and will not be shared. Look for these mental health and wellness topics »
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.
- Housing Forward. Transitions people from housing crisis to housing stability, with a range of programs and services. See the shelter schedule through May 2020 »
- Oak Park Homelessness Coalition. Consists of over 50 organizations and individuals working to end homelessness in Oak Park. Find community resources for your family in Oak Park »
- Community Mental Health Board. Assists in planning, developing, coordinating, evaluating, and funding mental health services in Oak Park. This includes services for persons with mental disorders, alcohol or other drug dependence, or developmental disorders.
- Oak Park Township Youth Services. Uses prevention techniques, crisis intervention, restorative justice, therapeutic involvement, case management, and coordination of wraparound services by partnering with other community agencies.
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.