Grow Your Public Services Skills with RUSA

CHICAGO- Register today for this five-week asynchronous course titled ” Whole Person Librarianship: Relationships are the New Reference Collection” scheduled to begin on Monday, April 19, 2021. 

Whole Person Librarianship applies social work concepts to library practice to improve patron services across library types. As library-social work collaborations expand in number and type across the country, all library staff members can learn to provide more holistic service by applying tools and technique that are grounded in decades of social work practice and experience. The techniques used in a Whole Person Librarianship approach bolster library staff skills in areas of mental health, self care, and understanding and working with patrons in crisis, and more. 

This course is ideal for library staff who work with special populations, provide outreach and engagement services, library managers, regional and multi-type library administrators, library consultants. Library staff who work directly with patron populations will benefit from new approaches to learning about and engaging with their patrons. Managers and administrators can apply whole person techniques to patron groups or to better understanding their own staff members. Library staff who work in multi-type systems will learn about this trend that will likely impact libraries in their systems (if it hasn’t already) and how they can better support library staff in understanding and making best use of the concepts inspired by library-social work partnerships. Library consultants will gain new skills for learning about and engaging with various patron populations. 

This course will engage learners in a personalized projects that they develop over the course of five weeks, focused on these topic areas: introduction to library-social work collaboration, Person-in-Environment, resource mapping, Cultural Humility, and Reflective Practice. Participants will gain new perspectives on services that they apply from the front line to the board room. 

The instructor, Sara Zetterval, is the founding consultant and trainer for Whole Person Librarianship, which applies social work concepts to library practice. She also works at Hennepin County Library as the community engagement librarian for East African refugees in Minneapolis. Her experience includes leading innovative projects in public, academic, and school libraries and archives. She was the 2017 winner of the Bogle Pratt International Travel Fund, in support of presenting on library-social work collaboration at the Symposium of the International Consortium for Social Development in Zagreb, Croatia. A 2014 American Library Association Emerging Leader, Sara has continued to serve ALA through involvement in the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Recommendations Implementation Working Group. She has published on outreach services in Public Libraries, VOYA, American Libraries, and Library Youth Outreach. She holds an MLIS from St. Catherine University (St. Paul, MN) and a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan.

Register here today! 

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Learn more at

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