Community Links officially open at the Lethbridge Public Library

By Aaron Mahoney (@Mahones93 on Twitter)
December 4, 2018 - 2:49pm

LETHBRIDGE – Another new resource is now available at the Lethbridge Public Library, as the Community Links information and referral desk officially opened on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Community Links is available during the Library’s peak hours to serve the community as an information and referral resource.

Library customers or individuals in the community can connect with staff in person, over the phone or through email to receive assistance in finding services in the community that are a fit for their current situation.

Members from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta South Region alongside staff from the Lethbridge Public Library and the City of Lethbridge, were on hand at the Main Branch for the announcement.

Lethbridge Public Library CEO Terra Plato says Community Links is an excellent complement to current Library services.

“The Library’s role is really to be a community connector, to connect people to information and resources. The Library’s ability to do that often ends when there requires a little bit more of a warm handoff. Community Links staff can really help customers through a process than Library staff may be able to."

“So, for example, they might be able to walk people to an appointment, help them fill out forms or make phone calls for them. These are things that Library staff aren’t able to do, because our expertise is really in finding information not walking people through the process.”

With a variety of resources on hand to help individuals looking for help, as well as detailed information on over three hundred community services, Community Links staff will be able to help people who may be overwhelmed at finding the right service or assistance that they need.

“It really just expands what the Library already does, and it’s a really great resource for people who come into the Library and people who maybe haven’t been in before. If you’re looking for government, community, health, information, Community Links are experts on what’s available and they can really help you find what you need,” Plato said.

They started having talks about Community Links two years, and Plato says they did a soft launch earlier this year.

“They’ve been in the Library for about 10 months now. It’s been a couple of years in the making, but very happy to have it officially launched,” she added.

Since the soft launch of the program, the quality services provided by Community Links as well as the difference it has made in the community has led to the program being recognized across the province.

This fall, Community Links was the program receiving the FCSS Association of Alberta Award for Excellence at the FCSSAA Annual Conference.

Heather Mueller, a Senior Social Worker for CMHA and the Community Links program supervisor, says because of the various crisis’ that we find ourselves in socially within Lethbridge, this program is very needed as well as very accessible.

“Being as we’re in the Library, one of the last inclusive places in the city, we can really meet people where they’re at and connect them to the supports that they might otherwise not be connected to or know about in the city.”

Mueller also feels that information is key and being able to bring a wide variety of information regarding supports, programs and services all in one location that’s easily accessible is absolutely invaluable.

The program was also the result of people on all three sides coming together.

“This is truly a community collaborative initiative. It was all sides, the City of Lethbridge, Lethbridge Public Library, and Canadian Mental Health that were all at the table for the first rounds of discussion on how to roll out this program and what it should look like,” Mueller stated.

Community Links is open from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Monday to Friday and 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturdays at the Lethbridge Public Library Main Branch

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