Maintaining the health and wellness of a community can be challenging even in the most ideal situations, and the effects of the global pandemic on the most vulnerable members of the community will continue to stress social service organizations, even after the immediate health issues have been addressed. Barriers such as economic insecurity, inequitable digital access, unequal distribution of risk, insufficient public transportation infrastructures, and inadequate information literacy skills development can disenfranchise those most in need of services. Libraries, as trusted and established public institutions, can help empower communities through programs such as Responsive Librarianship.
Responsive librarianship is defined as the delivery of personalized library services in response to an exigence that produces a positive change in a user’s situation over time. Responsive Librarianship differs from traditional bibliotherapy in that it is a data-driven therapeutic reading scheme leveraging customary library services to address a narrowly defined need for a particular library population. Responsive Librarianship uses targeted reading and library services to meet the needs of the community based on three assumptions. First, library services are personalized to determine the appropriate information-based intervention for each patron. Second, services are designed to solve a specific exigence or exigencies ascertained through a reference interview, service delivery interactions, or community assessment. Third, practitioners assess users’ sustained level of engagement with texts and library programs by measuring the level of change throughout the library ecology.
Developed by researchers at the University of South Florida’s Responsive Librarianship Lab, Responsive Librarianship has been in place in our community since 2015, providing library services to adult, teen, and pre-teen populations coping with various mental health, wellness, and physical concerns. Responsive Librarianship programs are in practice in Hillsborough and Pasco counties, as well as in the City of Temple Terrace. Similar programs are planned for the Miami-Dade Public Library System in 2021 and a state-wide system of Responsive Librarianship is also being developed through a partnership with the Vermont Department of Labor to facilitate return to work programs. In this presentation, we’ll be discussing Responsive Librarianship and the implementation of Responsive Librarianship programming.
USF School of Information Responsive Librarianship Lab Team Members
Peter Cannon, PhD, is the Program Coordinator for the USFSI Responsive Librarianship Lab. His current research applies findings from the neurosciences, which suggest reading fiction may improve an individual’s socio-cognitive abilities, to the development of therapeutic library collections.
Natalie Greene Taylor, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and the Program Coordinator for the School of Information’s MLIS program at the University of South Florida (USF). Her research focuses on youth information literacy, information intermediaries, and information policy.