RACINE, Wis. - Offering more than books. For the first time, the Racine Public Library has a full-time social worker on staff.
"I’ve always known I wanted to help people," said Ashley Cedeno. "I’ve helped people connect with sexual assault resources or just applying for benefits. There really is no limit to what I’m helping out with."
Limitless is how Cedeno describes her role as the library’s first full-time social worker.
A position relatively new to libraries.
"I think libraries are starting to see there are a lot of issues that librarians are not equipped to handle," she said.
This chapter for the library came after noticing a shift in community needs.
Requests for services around mental illness, addiction, housing, domestic violence and more were on the rise.
"Our job is to adapt to those changes in our community and adapt our services accordingly," said Angela Zimmerman.
Whether people make an appointment or pop in, Cedeno plays a key role in connecting people with the help they need.
"Right now, so far, it’s been housing. That’s been the biggest issue," she said.
"Even if it’s a lending ear to hear them out, give them advice or to connect them with those resources that’s always a goal is to have someone walk out of the library feeling like they were helped," Cedeno said.
The Racine Public Library is in the 1/5 of US libraries that employ a full-time social worker.