Coming Soon!
Creating a Person-Centered Library
Best Practices for Supporting High-Needs Patrons
by Elizabeth A. Wahler and Sarah C. Johnson
December 2023, 210pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-8083-4
$74.95, £58, 66€, A103
Available for purchase 30 days prior to publication.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-8084-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Offers suggestions and solutions to guide libraries through creating sustainable change, while understanding its ramifications and avoiding potential landmines.

A comprehensive overview of various services, programs, and collaborations to help libraries serve high-need patrons as well as strategies for supporting staff working with these individuals.

Public libraries are struggling to address growing numbers of high-need patrons experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, mental health problems, substance abuse, and poverty-related needs. Creating a Person-Centered Library will help librarians build or contribute to library services that will best address patrons’ psychosocial needs.

The authors, experienced in both library and social work, begin by providing an overview of patrons’ psychosocial needs, structural and societal reasons for the shift in these needs, and how these changes impact libraries and library staff. Chapters focus on best practices for libraries providing person-centered services and share lessons learned, including information about special considerations for certain patron populations that might be served by individual libraries. The book concludes with information about how library organizations can support public library staff.

Librarians and library students who are concerned about both patrons and library staff will find the practical advice in this book invaluable.


  • Provides a comprehensive overview of the various services, programs, and collaborations that can help public librarians address their patrons' needs
  • Teaches library directors how to support staff working with high-need patrons
  • Offers best practices for libraries providing person-centered services and shares lessons learned
  • Connects person-centered libraries to recent conversations related to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Examines timely lessons learned about cultural and societal impacts on libraries from the COVID-19 pandemic
Elizabeth A. Wahler, PhD, MSW, is professor and director of the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and founder of Beth Wahler Consulting. She has collaborated with libraries and library systems across the United States to conduct assessments of their patrons' psychosocial needs and staff challenges with these types of patron needs; provided training to library staff about trauma-informed librarianship and other approaches to addressing their patrons' needs; and created and piloted various interventions to address patron needs and support library staff. She is recognized internationally for her work on library and social work collaborations.

Sarah C. Johnson, MLIS, LMSW, is an adjunct lecturer at the School of Information Studies at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, where she teaches a course on library social work and is helping to develop a dual LIS/MSW degree. She is also the adjunct reference and instruction librarian at Cincinnati State. She is a licensed social worker, and her research focuses on the impact of social work students conducting their field placements at public libraries.
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