Like most urban public libraries, The Seattle Public Library serves a number of patrons whose needs go beyond books and materials. Our Library staff are trained to provide excellent reference and customer service, but are not thoroughly knowledgeable about the wide array of social service agencies that can help patrons with complex needs related to housing, employment, legal matters, financial literacy, immigration, health and mental health care, and substance abuse.
To address the need for information about social services and provide meaningful support to our patrons and staff, the Foundation is funding a two-year pilot project to place a Community Resource Specialist at the Central Library. In order to find an individual with the right experience for the job, the Library contracted with the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), one of the community’s largest and most respected agencies serving vulnerable populations.
Hallie Cronos, a DESC employee, currently works 30 hours a week at the Central Library meeting with patrons who need help with basic services, housing, health care, and employment. She keeps regular office hours on Level 5 and provides referrals to patrons dealing with personal challenges. She also works with Library staff and security staff to create a safe and comfortable atmosphere throughout the building.
Since beginning work at Central in April, Hallie has assisted more than 200 patrons, providing them with information and referrals that helped them move forward with their lives.