An Emerging Alliance: Social Work in the Public Library


Friday, April 5, 2019 | 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Wine & Cheese Reception 8-9 p.m.

19 University Place
New York, NY 10003

NYSED and ACE Approved for 3 CE contact hours
NYLA Approved for 3 CE credits 

Join us at the Wine & Cheese Reception immediately following the seminar.


As the social and cultural climate changes, public spaces of refuge, like libraries, are being utilized with more frequency and intensity. To meet the evolving needs of patrons, libraries have begun implementing social work practices and models into their services and programming. This new merger of library and social work practices has offered an incredible breadth of service provision, but not without challenge.This three-hour panel will address this integration of the two professions, some of the challenges experienced, and new possible areas of collaboration.

Learning Objectives


  • Identify the public library as a nontraditional space for social work
  • Understand the evolving need and role of social work services in the library
  • Speak to the interdisciplinary compatibility of social work models in the library setting
  • Develop skills to address challenges in the library setting
  • Outline recommendations for future practice


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Dr. Peggy Morton, LCSW, DSW (Moderator)

Dr. Peggy Morton, MSW, DSW is a Clinical Associate Professor of Social Work as well as the Assistant Dean of Field Learning & Community Partnerships at NYU Silver School of Social Work. Her  professional interests include women's reproductive health issues, specifically the social and psychological effects of pregnancy loss and infertility; gerontology; and the integration of social work and service learning. She has delivered a number of professional papers on psychological and social aspects of infertility and pregnancy loss and on the intersection of social work and service learning.

Her practice experience includes clinical work with children and adolescents, the elderly, and terminally ill patients and their families in both private and public (agency-based) settings.

Dr. Morton teaches bachelor’s- and master’s-level courses in human behavior and practice. She has developed and taught service learning courses to the wider University undergraduate community. She has had extensive experience both as a field instructor and faculty advisor in both the undergraduate and graduate social work programs and serves as advisor to two student groups, Next Steppers and the Global Social Work Collective, and has been a faculty affiliate to five undergraduate dorms.

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Sarah Johnson, MLIS, LMSW

Sarah Johnson, MLIS, LMSW, is Assistant Professor and Reference & Instruction Librarian at Hunter College (CUNY). Her primary research focuses on social work students conducting field placements at public libraries in North America. She aims to raise awareness about existing student/public library partnerships and the need for such collaborations to expand in order to better meet the needs of patrons. Sarah chairs the Social Work Committee for the Association of College and Research Libraries. More information about her work can be found at

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David Perez, MSW

David Perez, MSW is the Social Work and Diversity Services Manager at the Long Branch Free Public Library. He was born and raised in The Bronx, NY.  He now resides in Long Branch; for the past 19 years. He is happily married, for the past 18 years and has seven children. This is David’s third career. He was a soldier in the Army for ten years. David has an undergraduate degree in business, with a healthcare management concentration. He worked in the healthcare field for over 15 years. As a result of the Great Recession, he became unemployed in 2011. The VA paid for David to go to Graduate School. He was a full time social work student for two years. He interned at the Long Branch Public Library for those two years. David graduated in May 2017 and was hired as a full time employee in June 2017. He now holds a civil service position, as a Bilingual Social Worker. He has submitted a chapter to the editor of “Days in the Lives of Social Workers”, on social work in libraries. This chapter will be published in the 5th edition. David is the only social worker directly hired by a library in the state of New Jersey.

David supervises Monmouth University School of Social Work student interns, at the library. He is a member of the Public Library Association (PLA) National Social Worker Task Force. He is also the Vice President of the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) Diversity and Outreach Section. In David’s opinion, the Public Library is one of the last remaining true social protections in our society.  

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Casey Burke, LMSW

Casey Burke, LMSW is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, and has lived in Brooklyn since 2002.  She received her Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin, and her MSW from New York University’s Silver School of Social Work in 2005.  Since 2007, Casey has worked with Breaking Ground’s Street to Home program and currently serves as Program Director overseeing homeless outreach services in Brooklyn.  Her practice has also focused on people living with HIV and AIDS, people living with severe mental illness, and primarily on people living on the streets and in supportive housing. 

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Velma Morton, AAS, BBA

Velma Morton is a Manager at the 125th Street Branch of the The New York Public Library. She has obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Business Management from Monroe College.  She is a Certified Action Learning Coach with the WIAL Institute of Action Learning and also a CPI Institute Certified facilitator in Conflict Resolution. Her affiliation with the New York Public Library dates back over 19 years working in several locations throughout Manhattan. She continues to support and build lasting relationships by offering a comprehensive range of services for the East Harlem residents like free video based visitation for families separated by incarceration, connecting social services to people who are experiencing homelessness, and Community Conversations where any and everyone can share in meaningful dialogue. Velma also participates in the NYPL/NYU Social Worker Internship Program for the residents of East Harlem. Her continued passion for helping and serving her community runs deep.

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Shantel Johnson, LMSW 

Shantel Johnson, LMSW is a passionate clinician in training with 5+ years working with Individuals and Families in clinical and vocational settings across the NYC five boroughs. Shantel is a previous graduate of the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she received her BA in Sociology. She is also is a Graduate of the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College where she received her Masters of Social Work in 2013. After graduation, Shantel continued to provide services to individuals with dual disorders of various ages within day treatment programs. Shantel additionally worked with individuals living with HIV/AIDS providing counseling and housing support. Being a native of New York City and of South East Queens, Shantel is now devoted to providing program coordination, counseling to her community and mentorship to new professionals entering the field of Social Work at Queens Borough Public Library. In her free time, she enjoys writing, as she hopes to one day provide inspiration to others in overcoming hardships they may experience throughout their life through her experiences

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Eva Raison BA, MA

Eva Raison is Director of Outreach Services at Brooklyn Public Library. In this role, she oversees responsive library services with immigrant communities, older adults, people experiencing homelessness, families affected by the justice system and veterans. Outreach Services is home to New York City’s first library-based Social Work Program in partnership with Breaking Ground. The Department, a small but mighty team, develops programs, partnerships and training for Brooklyn’s 60 neighborhood libraries. Eva’s work has focused on literacy and learning, immigrant integration, language access and library strategic partnerships.  In 2018, she was named one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers.  She lives in Brooklyn with her family.