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

Contact the team

Services available

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.

Collection resources

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 »

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.

Stay current on news and new arrivals.