Services for Dark Times 

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The library is often a place where people turn when they don’t know where else to go.  Libraries help people with everything from finding a job, connecting people with social services agencies, and helping parents learn how to teach their kids early literacy skills.  Many of these things we are well equipped to handle and have been doing so for a long time, such as early literacy and career programs.  Other help that community members may need we may not have as much experience or knowledge about, but we are more than willing to try and connect people with agencies that can help them.

Of course, we don’t know everything at the library, and our knowledge is basically in how to connect people with information, so we are not actually helping people resolve crises, helping people find housing, or providing people with services.  In recent years the library has taken big steps into equipping our staff with the knowledge and skills to help the public.  The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Downtown and Business location has hired a full-time social work lead.  She helps people directly, and also helps acquaint library staff at other locations with the knowledge of the services available to local residents.

Now, here at Carnegie Library for the Blind and Handicapped, we serve the whole state of Pennsylvania, mostly by phone, so some of the resources we use might be different than the resources that are available to people in the greater Pittsburgh area.  The fact that our patrons are remote doesn’t mean they don’t have the same needs as the patrons who walk into any of our locations.  They do have the same needs, and in some cases more needs, and often are in rural parts of the state that don’t have the same resources available as urban areas.

One of my colleagues found a resource on the Department of Corrections website that is useful for folks throughout the state.  You can find a PDF document on this page by selecting the link that says Crisis Intervention by County, which lists crisis resolution lines throughout the state.  One of my colleagues was actually able to provide this information to someone from another part of the state that was in crisis.  That person later called back and shared that they were doing better.  Please share this information with anyone you may know who needs it; it could help them out of a difficult situation or even save their life.  People don’t have to face a crisis alone, and there is help available.

If you know anyone, anywhere who is contemplating suicide, please share the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.  According to the Lifeline’s website they “provide 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.”  They also have a website that has links to more specific resources, such as for those coping with loss, disaster survivors, LGBT, youth, veterans and more.

Everyone has struggles in life, so please know that you’re not alone, and please let the people you know who are struggling about these resources, or even just let them know that the library can often steer them towards resources that may be able to help.