The Whole-Person Library: Meeting Lifelong Needs through Community Partnerships


Beyond addressing basic literacy skills, many libraries are teaching financial, digital, and physical literacy, as well as offering medical, legal, and mental health services, in an effort to meet the needs of the whole person, during the entire lifespan. Barring a few exceptions, most services are free. This is a daunting, complex undertaking. Some argue we should "stay in our lane" and others are cursing the "vocational awe" that leads us to try to be all things to all people. We are burning out in rapid numbers. Meanwhile, as mounting fears and realities around climate change, pandemics, economic recession, and political corruption overwhelm our citizens they are increasingly turning to their libraries for information, shelter, and support. This talk will address those concerns and show how we can lead with compassion. It will argue that the proven solution to keeping librarians sane and service needs met during these turbulent times is by first taking care of ourselves, and then forming partnerships between outside non-profit organizations, government, local businesses, and citizens. More importantly, we will discuss positive steps we can take towards healing, while also acknowledging the grief, trauma, and guilt librarians experience every day on the front lines.


Jenn Carson

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