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Davenport library becomes Iowa’s first to hire social worker

January 17, 2022 GMT

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — The Davenport Public Library has become the first in Iowa to add a social worker to its staff.

The Davenport library hired Quinn O’Brian full-time in October, noting that some patrons sought information from librarians that reached well beyond what they’re trained to handle, t he Quad-City Times reported.

“(We) see people from all walks of life come into the library — young families, low-income, high-income, elderly,” Davenport library community outreach supervisor Brittany Peacock said. “And all of those people have unique needs.”

O’Brian works to connect those residents to services such as housing, unemployment, child care and food assistance, substance abuse and mental health services. She had already helped about 80 people as of December.

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The library hired O’Brian using federal pandemic relief grant money. The position is funded for three years, but library staff is hoping to convince the city to continue funding the position beyond that.

O’Brian has been a licensed social worker since 2011 and previously worked for Genesis Health System in Davenport. She said she had noticed people in the hospital setting who had social needs that were not being met, such as housing, employment and food assistance.

“I felt like that was a service that was really needed,” she said. “So when I saw this position, that is what I saw — another opportunity for people to be able to meet with a social worker and address those needs that they can’t find a proper setting of addressing.”.