The Pikes Peak Library District has added a social worker to its staff.
Since October, the new employee has been reaching out to the community at the Penrose Library in downtown Colorado Springs.
“We are wanting to ensure that we are best serving all of our patrons regardless of any status, certainly regardless of their housing status,” library district spokeswoman Kayah Swanson said.
Library officials said they see quite a few people experiencing homelessness at the downtown location, and that’s in part why they have the social worker based there.
“A big part of what I have to do then is help gain their trust and build personal relationships where they may be able to feel comfortable enough to ask me for something or let me know what they are struggling with,” the social worker, Alicia Kwande, said.
Kwande is one of several social workers hired by libraries across Colorado, but it’s a fairly new position for libraries to fill.
Kwande’s sole responsibility is to connect people to resources within the community and county.
“Usually, what I found is a lot of things I tell people, they didn’t know about, so they are happy to have learned something new and have something more they can try,” Kwande said.
Although Kwande is based at the downtown location, she is available to help other libraries in the district. It’s not just for those experiencing homelessness, but also for families, children, and others that may need help.
“We wanted to make sure that when folks walk through our doors they were able to access the resources that they needed rather than passing the buck, so to speak,” Swanson said.
The library said they will not turn away anyone, regardless of status. They also have a security guard on staff for any issues that may arise.