University of South Florida

College of Arts & Sciences

The HUB

senior woman video conferencing with medical professional on laptop

PROMOTING MENTAL HEALTH IN LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARIES

The University of South Florida’s School of Information Responsive Librarianship Lab (RLL) recently received a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant for the 2020-2021 academic year. Members of the RLL working on this grant include Faculty, staff, and students from the School of Information. The award will fund a collaboration with the Temple Terrace Public Library (TTPL), the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative (HCPLC), and the Pasco County Library Cooperative (PCLC) to address individual mental health and family wellness concerns through the delivery of personalized reader's advisory services, therapeutic reading materials, mental health literacy skills development, and family wellness instruction. Services will be provided remotely, ensuring that those unable to visit the library in person will still be able to benefit from programs. These services will include weekly reading groups and instructional programs designed to address specific issues of concern.

Researchers at the RLL address key challenges at the intersection of people, information, and technology in multidisciplinary ways with a vision that drives our research to impact the everyday lives of our community. Using evidence-based methodologies grounded in the Social Sciences and computational tools from the Digital Humanities, researchers at the RLL have created a unique, four-track text-based therapeutic reading scheme that provides real results for library users.  Previous programs designed by the RLL include the creation of two bibliotherapy-focused library collections geared towards the adult women residents at the Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office, Inc. (DACCO) facility in Tampa, FL, and pediatric residents at the Morton Plant North Bay Hospital Recovery Center. The success at both of these locations has enabled the RLL to expand its current model of Responsive Librarianship into public libraries.

Services to be provided through the grant will further the purposes and priorities of the LSTA and Florida's long-range plan of providing library services to individuals of diverse geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, to individuals with disabilities, and to individuals with limited functional literacy or information skills and will be targeted towards the specific user populations of each partnering library the following ways:

  • Services at TTPL will focus on adolescent mental health wellness and will be integrated with counseling and resource management services provided by the University of South Florida's School of Social Work.

  • The South Holiday Library branch of the PCLC will focus on addressing the concerns of women facing substance abuse and co-occurring mental health concerns. These services will often complement the treatment plans for the patrons who visit the South Holiday branch.

  • HCPLC services with be developed and piloted at the Robert W. Saunders, Sr. branch library, using a hybrid model to focus on family wellness and will be targeted towards families in immediate crisis, particularly those affected by the closing of the Tampa Park housing development.

The instructional programs will be facilitated by community partners such as Cuddle Up and Read Every Day (CURED), a non-profit organization that brings disadvantaged families together to read. The funds awarded by the LSTA grant will enable the RLL to reach a larger population of library users, specifically those populations that are at-risk and the most vulnerable in the Tampa Bay Library Consortium region. 

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About CAS

The College of Arts and Sciences is the intellectual heart of the University of South Florida. We are a community of teachers and scholars united in the belief that broadly educated people are the basis of a just, free, and prosperous society. By focusing on the big questions facing all of humanity, we prepare students for successful, socially responsible personal and professional lives. By conducting innovative, interdisciplinary research and scholarship, we advance knowledge in ways that prepare us to address complex social and scientific problems and enhance the quality of life for people and communities.