Brick & Mortar & Beyond: UNC Charlotte Partnership

Last fall the Library’s first Masters of Social Work intern Miosha Johnson blazed a much-needed trail — developing a program to meet the psychosocial needs of Library staff and the people they serve.

Much of Miosha’s work revolved around finding intersections between the core values of librarianship and social work that are articulated both by practicing professionals and by the ethics and competencies espoused by the American Library Association and National Association of Social Workers.  Values such as respect for the individual and a commitment to social justice and integrity are common threads winding throughout the work of both librarians and social workers.  Both are committed to meeting the needs of individuals while also working to strengthen community connections.

“Libraries are trusted places in every community,” said Dr. Elizabeth Wahler, Ms. Johnson’s adviser, UNC Charlotte department chair, and a leading researcher of the impact of social work collaborations in libraries, “They’re places where one’s humanity is recognized and valued.”

Chief Library and CEO Marcellus Turner became an enthusiastic supporter of social workers as part of a library team after witnessing firsthand the success of a similar model at the Seattle Public Library.

Libraries are a safe and trusted space in Charlotte. The Library is one of the only spaces where an individual can spend time without being expected to make a purchase or move along quickly. Libraries are about building relationships and meeting needs, whether that need is for information, technology, or a social connection.

The Social Work Interns will both support staff at specific locations as well as expand their skills and knowledge regarding needs assessments for staff and customers, resource collection and sharing, and how to create engaging training and program opportunities. The interns will be supported by collaborative supervision from mentors at the Charlotte School of Social Work and site supervisors at specific Library locations. They will also be exposed to training opportunities and spend time with the Library’s new Mobile Library.

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