The library’s Social Services and Public Safety team ensures safety in the library and refers people to resources for housing, employment, health care, immigration, domestic violence, and more.
Shelter & housing
- Assisting someone seeking shelter in west suburban Cook County in English & Spanish (pdf) »
- Learn more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in English & Spanish (pdf) »
- More from Housing Forward & the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition »
Virtual mental health assessments with Rush University Medical Center
By virtual appointment, children and adults can receive free mental health assessments conducted by Rush University Medical Center psychologists. Please email Director Robert Simmons at RobertS@oppl.org to schedule a virtual mental health assessment via telehealth and virtual platforms.
Food support: Beyond Hunger »
For teens & their families: Local mental health support and resources »
How we serve
Libraries exist to help people find and connect with the information they need. Our Social Services and Public Safety team serves individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, and mental health and substance abuse disorders. The team connects people to information and resources such as advocacy and service referrals for housing, employment, health care, immigration, domestic violence, and more. Read more »
Meet our team
- Robert Simmons, Director of Social Services and Public Safety, 708.697.6910, RobertS@oppl.org
- Stephen Jackson, Teen Services Manager, 708.697.6908, StephenJ@oppl.org
- Aaron Alonzo, Manager of Public Safety, AaronA@oppl.org
Finding resources in the library’s collection
Libraries also are big supporters of confidentiality of circulation records, data privacy, and empowering every voice. No matter what your age, you can check out books from any floor of the library. Click here to review a short list of where to find library materials related to mental health and wellness »
Collaborating with local agencies
Our team collaborates and maintains relationships with more than 40 organizations throughout the entire Chicago area, connecting people to the services and resources they need. Here are some key partners and resources in the Oak Park area.
- Housing Forward. Transitions people from housing crisis to housing stability, with a range of programs and services.
- Oak Park Homelessness Coalition. A collaboration of 50+ local organizations and individuals working to end homelessness in Oak Park.
- Community Mental Health Board. Assists in planning, developing, coordinating, evaluating, and funding mental health services in Oak Park. Maintains the Health Connection Hub, a resource for finding local services for individuals and families, including: senior and youth services, developmental disabilities, medical health care, behavioral/mental health services, and other social support.
- Oak Park Township Youth Services. Uses prevention techniques, crisis intervention, restorative justice, therapeutic involvement, case management, and coordination of wraparound services by partnering with other community agencies.
Why have a social worker at a library?
Robert Simmons joined the library in 2016 as its first social worker, a direct result of the library’s intentional strategy of listening and responding to community aspirations. Since then, the Social Services and Public Safety team has served hundreds of vulnerable patrons. Most are Oak Park residents experiencing mental illness, homelessness, and extreme poverty.
The decision to hire a social worker was part of rethinking how we engage with all patrons, “including those who are vulnerable, marginalized, or at-risk, who use our facilities on a daily basis, and for whom we should be providing services,” said Executive Director David J. Seleb.
It was also part of a growing trend for public libraries, including those in Evanston, Denver, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. “Around the nation, public libraries have become de facto community health centers for people who don’t have access to other resources,” Simmons said.