Social Work Interest Group

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This community is for anyone interested in learning more about social work in public libraries. The PLA Social Worker Task Force will use this space to discuss issues facing public libraries, provide a space to connect with others, generate and share best practices and resources.

[ALA Online Course] Whole Person Librarianship: Social Work Concepts for Holistic Patron Services

  • 1.  [ALA Online Course] Whole Person Librarianship: Social Work Concepts for Holistic Patron Services

    Posted Oct 26, 2020 10:52 AM
    Apologies if you get this in multiples through cross-posting.
    Whole Person Librarianship: Social Work Concepts for Holistic Patron Services-Nov 2020 

    Whole Person Librarianship: Social Work Concepts for Holistic Patron Services-Nov 2020

    Monday, 11/2/2020 - Monday, 12/7/2020

    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 will engage learners in a personalized project 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 service that they can apply from the front line to the board room. 

    Learning Outcomes

    By the end of this course, the participant will be able to:

    • Explain the importance of library-social work collaboration in a contemporary library service
    • Describe key social work concepts for a whole person approach to library service
    • Apply key social work concepts to their own library work 

    Who Should Attend

    Library staff who work with special populations, library staff who 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 wil gain new skills for learning about and engaging with various patron populations. 


    Sara Zettervall 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.



    • $175 for ALA members
    • $210 for non-ALA members
    • $100 for student members and retired members

    How to Register

    • Online
    • By Fax: download, complete, and fax form (PDF format) to (312) 280-1538
    • By Mail: download, complete and mail form (PDF format) to American Library Association, ATTN: MACS/Online CE Registration, 225 N. Michigan Ave. Suite 1300, Chicago, IL 60601

    Tech Requirements

    ALA uses Moodle for all online educational courses. It is hosted at Learn more about Moodle at

    All content for this course will be provided by the instructor. No textbook required.

    The Moodle login instructions will be sent the Friday before the start date. The course site will remain open one week after the end date for students to complete any assignments and submit the course evaluation survey.


    Continuing Education Credit-A certificate of completion will be sent to each participant upon successful completion of each course

    Although the courses are not CEU-certified, many licensing boards will accept them for credit. Requirements vary by state and school districts regarding certification and continuing education credits. The decision to grant CEU credits remains entirely up to your state or school district. If you are in need of credits, check with your state and/or school district before enrolling to determine eligibility. Some states will review your certificate of completion and course description to determine eligibility.


    Questions about registration should be directed to Technical questions about the webinar should be directed to Ninah Moore at

    Thank you and we look forward to your participation!