Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-3-2021


While the collaborative trend among professional social workers and librarians has accumulated much-deserved attention for several years, literature about social work students partnering with public libraries is only beginning to emerge. In fact, there are at least 100 branches that host social work students, yet academic literature examining the scope of these collaborations is sparse. Student placements do exist at Canadian and Australian libraries, yet the current research focuses on the bulk of known partnerships based in the United States. This paper includes information on the prevalence, nature, and fit of social work education and public library partnerships, garnered from an extensive review of the extant literature as well as public documents such as library memos and minutes, newsletters, annual reports, news articles, video clip websites, and social media posts. Practical applications of field placements are presented including students’ assignments for educational competencies such as conducting needs assessments, providing training to library staff, and developing outreach to patrons. Student attributes suitable for placement are discussed as are potential challenges in establishing and implementing fieldwork. Proposals for how to commence such partnerships are offered including suggestions for further research.



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