This post is going to go into detail about community in Lawrence and access to resources, but the MAIN thing you need to remember is: Tuesday afternoons = Connect with resources
Starting this month, LPL re-launched its weekly Community Resource Drop-in sessions, which connect you with the information and help you need – all in one spot. Every Tuesday from 3–5:30pm, there will be a variety of local social service providers that hang out (possibly with snacks) and talk to anyone who drops in with questions. As one of the agencies said, “If you need anything, chances are one of us in this room knows who to talk to!” So far, we’ve had a wide range of organizations, with even more rotating in the future. (At the bottom of this post, I’ll give a shout-out to our recent participants!) Folks wandering in have come away with maps of Lawrence, job resources, volunteering opportunities, locations of free meals in town, advice on battling substance use, information on keeping their loved one out of a nursing home, and the chance to just tell their story without judgment.
So, why would a public library be a place to find a direct connection to housing, health insurance, daycares, food benefits, or hospice care? Because we want to and we can. Lawrence has an enormous number of social services but they are scattered around town, so sometimes it’s difficult to get all the help you need in a short period of time. Making appointments can be a barrier to many of us who don’t have a phone and/or the time to make a million calls. LPL is centrally located downtown, on most bus routes, and open after traditional business hours. Thousands of people come through our doors every day. We wanted to invite agencies to the library, where people hang out. As it says under our mission statement, "We embrace our role as a community anchor.” This drop-in service is one of the ways we hope to invite you – and the things you need – into your library.
As a whole, libraries are all about information, connection, and community engagement. As stated by the American Library Association (ALA) when talking about equity of access:
“Libraries in America are cornerstones of the communities they serve. Free access to the books, ideas, resources and information in America’s libraries is imperative for education, employment, enjoyment, and self-government.”
The books and information parts are well-known among both library users and the general community, but my hope is that more and more will think of us as an access point for resources and ideas as well. Drop in and let's make it happen!
Of course, none of this would be possible without the help of the amazing social service workers in town. Here are the organizations who have been present during one or more of the drop-in visits this month:
- Mirror Inc.
- Bert Nash Homeless Outreach
- Midland Care
- Visiting Nurses Association
- Housing and Credit Counseling Inc.
- Ballard Center
- Working Healthy Kansas Medicaid Buy-in
- Plymouth Language Learning
- Catholic Charities Friendly Visitors and VITA tax services
- SNAP enrollment
- Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging
- Healthy Kansas Kids (KanCare)
-Kate Gramlich is an Info Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.