GPL hoping to add fulltime social worker to payroll

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By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor

The Gadsden Public Library is hoping to eventually add a fulltime social worker to their employee roster.

Craig Scott, the director for the Gadsden Public Library, took the first step at starting the new position with a student-intern from Jacksonville State University.

Seaira Goosby is finishing her last semester at Jacksonville State University. She graduates with a bachelor’s degree in social work in December of this year. She says she wants to help people and that being the library’s social work intern has taught her about the help people might need.

“I’ve helped people with housing, employment, dental or health needs,” Goosby said.

Her ultimate career goal is to work with people who need help mentally and emotionally.

So far, Goosby has familiarized herself with local nonprofits, like United Way, Family Success and Salvation Army. One of her assignments was to gather information and create a catalogue for the library for assistance programs and nonprofits.

Another one of her assignments was riding the City of Gadsden’s public trolleys.

“I chose to do my field placement here because libraries need social workers,” Goosby said. “I just wanted to help serve the patrons.”

Goosby, who graduated from Gadsden City High School in 2013, has assisted several patrons with job applications and resume writing.

The only hard part so far is that there are limited resources in the community to help people who need assistance — specifically the homeless population.

One thing she has not been taught while working with the library is how to check out books.

“I don’t want her spending her time checking out books or learning that side of things,” Scott said. “I want her making those human connections and learning about nonprofit services. I wanted her to ride the trolleys and introduce herself to the places that can help, like United Way.”

Goosby’s internship is up in December, but Scott knows the library needs someone to do that sort of work fulltime.

“Anybody is welcome that comes through our door, so long as they behave,” Scott said. “Many are coming through the doors and they are looking to get out of the elements and some are looking for services. I like to think about our library being a place to connect people with services. My library staff knows a little bit about helping people with services, but we need a designated person.”

According to Scott, larger public libraries in cities like New York City or Los Angeles have employed social workers for several years, but public libraries the size of Gadsden’s are just starting to have the conversation about it. Scott wants Gadsden to help lead the charge.

“We see all sorts of people who have need of assistance,” Scott said. “A library shouldn’t just be about books and movies. We should be about people.”

With the success of Goosby’s internship, Scott hopes to present his proposal to the City of Gadsden around June or July of 2024, when the city begins working on its next fiscal year’s budget.

As for the experience, Goosby thinks it has helped her and, more importantly, that it has helped the library’s patrons. She is in favor of the library having a fulltime social worker.

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