Field Directors

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  • 1.  Placements in Libraries

    Posted Jun 17, 2022 14:03
    In the last 3 months I have been approached by two different public libraries about placing social work students with them. I'd love to hear about others' experiences, successes and challenges, with placing students in libraries. I'm particularly interested if the library didn't already have a full time social worker on staff.


    Myke Selha
    Field Education Director
    Grand View University
    Des Moines IA

  • 2.  RE: Placements in Libraries

    Posted Jun 20, 2022 08:45

    Hi Myka,


    We have been placing students in our local library for 7 years now.  I also just met with our state librarian last week to help her start a pilot program.  Our state currently has 3 full time SW in local libraries.  If you would like to chat more we can set up a time.  



    She / Her / Hers (Why do I mention this?)
    Director of Field and Professional Education
    School of Social Work

    Zoom Link:

    Call 732-263-5375





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  • 3.  RE: Placements in Libraries

    Posted Jun 28, 2022 12:40
    Sarah, I was following this conversation as we too have been approached by our local library for a social work student placement. The library would like the student complete a community needs assessment, coordinate training for staff around mental health, trauma-informed care, SUD, homelessness, etc, and create resource guides for patrons. As part of planning this experience, the library has asked us what the student's mandated reporting responsibilities would be and was somewhat worried that a student might need to make a report and violate a patron's confidentiality should they witness child abuse/neglect in the library.  In our state, librarians are not mandated reporters and there is not a social worker on site at the library. How does your program handle that issue if it arises? Thank you for any information you can share!

    Leah Maxwell
    Field Director
    University of Maine
    Orono ME

  • 4.  RE: Placements in Libraries

    Posted Jun 29, 2022 09:20
    Good morning,
    We have been placing students at one of our local libraries for a couple of years. I also provided consultation when the library developed a job description and conducted interviews for their first full time social worker. I was then hired to provide the weekly supervision for the social worker, who has now been in her role for about 9 months. 

    One very interesting issue that you raise is that library ethics clearly place a higher priority on patron confidentiality than SW ethics do. This came up as the social worker and I were developing documentation procedures within her role of providing services to patrons. We learned that the norm in libraries with SWs was to avoid documenting anything identifiable by anyone (even the social worker).  In other words, most SWs in libraries would track some general demographic information, but would not be able to produce any documentation of what a patron shared, how the SW intervened in a specific situation, etc. I believe this practice is truly hazardous to a SW with a license. For example, if a patron completes suicide after meeting with a SW and there is no documentation of the SW's interactions with the patron, their practice could easily be challenged and would not meet our ethical standards without clear documentation of their work. I actually consulted with our state's NASW director on this, who agreed that the SW must document in a library setting, regardless of the differences between library and SW ethics. The statement from our NASW director was along the lines of, "if you want a SW on your team, you cannot pick and choose which ethical standards they abide by. You are getting the whole package of SW ethics with the professional skills they bring to the library setting."

    Based on this guidance, I cannot imagine that a SW in a library would be immune from the need to report suspicions of child abuse they come across in their work within libraries. I'm also happy to have a further conversation about how we have navigated some of these differences in ethical priorities within these disciplines.


    Debbie Kelly

    Debra Minsky-Kelly
    Field director
    Carthage College
    Kenosha, WI 53140