The Athens-Clarke County Library and the University of Georgia School of Social Work have been working together since October to transform the ACC Library into the first trauma-informed library in the state.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, staff in a trauma-informed library understand that trauma affects people, can recognize the signs and symptoms, and respond to those affected in a positive and proactive way.
Rhiannon Eades, public information officer of Athens Regional Library Services, said this means meeting people where they are and providing the best resources for them.
Trauma is a universal thing, and it’s different for every person,” said Eades. “This is a way for us to engage with our community more fully and be the best resource we can be for everyone who walks in the door.”
The project, Trauma-Informed Library Transformation (TILT), is being funded by a $150,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This is one of only 12 grants awarded nationwide this year out of 51 applicants.
TILT can be broken down into a three-pronged approach: embedding social work students into the library, training library staff, and then ensuring the library environment and policies are also trauma-informed.
Three UGA School of Social Work students began internships at the library in October, receiving specialized trauma training and education. The library staff began their training in January.
Anna Scheyett, dean of the UGA School of Social Work, believes her students can better their community by actively working within it.
“I heard somewhere that the library is probably the last place you don’t have to buy anything or believe in anything to be welcomed there,” said Scheyett. “To have our students there is wonderful, and it’s great experience.”
According to Scheyett, TILT establishes the ACC Library as the first trauma-informed library in the state and one of only a few in the nation.
Scheyett said her goals for the project include developing better and quicker resources for library users, making the environment even more welcoming and responsive to its community and helping other libraries become trauma-informed.
“I’m hoping we learn enough to build a tool kit that we can share with libraries across the country,” said Scheyett.
Madison Lupo is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in Spanish in the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia.