Library Guides People to Assistance & Resources with Case Management Service

October 29, 2020 | Adult Services

Albany Public Library is hoping an expanded service can provide a safety net for people struggling with food insecurity, stable housing, mental health, and other issues during the pandemic. The library is now providing case management and advocacy services to the public through its community and services support specialist.

“There are so many more people out there now who are experiencing a lack of food, struggling to apply for benefits, and suffering from stress and mental health problems. Our goal is to find organizations that tackle these issues and directly link people to them for assistance,” said Scott C. Jarzombek, APL’s executive director.

The community and services support specialist position was originally created in 2018 as a way for APL to help all populations access library services. The goal was to work with people who had their library privileges revoked due to misbehavior in the buildings, link them to any social services that they may need, and resolve their issues with the library to reinstate their ability to visit APL branches in person.

With Albany’s library buildings mostly closed to the public now—except for two branches that are currently providing select in-person services by appointment only and three branches that solely provide curbside pickup of materials—the role of the community and services support specialist has changed during the pandemic. APL has expanded the service to include case management and advocacy for anyone who expresses a need for this type of assistance.

The library can help people:
• Find food providers and navigate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
• Apply for social service benefits, like Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
• Apply for unemployment, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits
• Access mental health services
• Attain housing and prevent eviction

“People often don’t know where to start when they are struggling and need help. I can help connect folks to organizations that provide direct assistance and resources,” said Annie Johnson, APL’s community and services support specialist. “We are trying to support our community with these case management and advocacy services.”

The service is open to anyone who needs help. Clients can be referred to the service, or opt into it themselves. Johnson will conduct phone, virtual, and in-person meetings to discuss the client’s needs and determine a path to securing direct assistance.

APL’s Community and Services Support Specialist Annie Johnson can be reached at (518) 764-3503.

Stephanie Simon

Stephanie Simon is manager of APL's Communication and Creative Services Department, which provides content and information for the library's website, social media, publications, videos, podcasts, and other outlets. Stephanie also manages APL's public relations and marketing efforts.