NYU Silver Field Placements at Manhattan Library Branches Offer Help to Homeless Patrons

Under the guidance of Clinical Associate Professor Peggy Morton, NYU Silver School of Social Work students are offering personalized assistance to needy patrons at New York Public Library branches -- a first for the library system which serves the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and part of a growing national trend of basing social work professionals and students in public libraries.

Dr. Morton, who is also Assistant Dean, Field Learning & Community Partnerships, said she had been reading about similar initiatives starting up around the country, including in Baltimore, Evanston, Illinois, and northern New Jersey, when she made inquiries about placing NYU Silver students in Manhattan branches for the field-learning requirement. The result was a partnership with the NYPL that, beginning last fall, created a placement at the Mulberry Street branch in SoHo, and another at the East 125th Street branch in Harlem.

The two students who are pioneering this new initiative, Rachel Remes, MSW '19 and Elliot Rosenbaum, MSW '19, work with librarians to help patrons take advantage of library programming, computers, and information on referrals to food stamps, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, job-related opportunities, healthcare, and other services. The Mulberry Street branch has also established a monthly reading group with the help of Remes, that will launch in March using books chosen by her and the librarian.

The students have also availed themselves of training offered by the New York City Department Homeless Services to its own outreach staff who work with the vulnerable.

“Libraries are public spaces welcome to all in the community,” explained Dr. Morton. “The NYPL placements are designed to support the library’s mission. They are a win-win situation -- for the patrons, the library system, and our students. In future years, the field placements that NYU Silver provides will grow as much as the NYPL will allow.”