It's no secret: we love the Cambridge Public Library staff! From circulation to admin, facilities to youth services - the enthusiasm, warmth, and dedication of the Library’s team makes Cambridge an amazing place to live, learn and explore.
Over the coming weeks, the Cambridge Public Library Foundation will take you on a virtual tour of the Library and introduce you to some of its STARS who make this place great.
This week we are pleased to introduce you to the Library's first social worker, Marie Mathieu!
The Library has always served as a welcoming, central gathering place for the community. The important addition of a social worker allows for the Library to continue to support the people of Cambridge.
What is your role at the Library?
I am the Library’s first social worker! I joined the team in March and our website went live two months ago. For years the [Cambridge Public] Library has wanted a social worker and there has always been a need for one.
I help people meet a variety of needs. Some people have material needs; they are looking for back to school supplies, diapers, food, or clothing. Everything else runs the gambit from helping people apply for housing, helping with paperwork to stay in current housing, employment resources, and completing applications for MassHealth and disability. It is such a broad range, which is the unique piece of working at a Library. It is also cool to be able to work with people across the lifespan, from children to older adults.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There is no typical day! Since I have gotten myself more familiar with the community and my routine, I am trying to meet with patrons on specific days and allow myself time on other days to do the more administrative parts of my role. I am usually seeing patrons via the phone, Zoom, or at the Library branch that is most convenient for them.
I also set aside time to do research and connect with other community partners who can assist folks. Most days I’m referring out to other agencies across the city and beyond.
How can patrons connect with you?
The first step usually entails filling out one of the referral forms on the website, or submitting a form at one of our drop boxes that can be found at each branch of the Library. I usually meet with patrons briefly the first time to do an assessment of needs and learn how I can best support them.
What is your favorite thing about working at the Cambridge Public Library?
It's a different setting where you don't typically find a social worker so I think that’s pretty cool! I like that there’s no entry criteria to a Library; everyone is welcome in this space so everyone is welcome to use me as a resource.
Do you do any staff training?
Not yet, but that is to come! I look forward to helping Library staff learn how they can best meet the needs of their patrons and community.
What’s your favorite book?
It’s called ‘Year of Yes’ by Shonda Rhimes. [Editor's note: You can borrow this book from the Library!]
Is there anything else you would like to share?
My hope is that I’m able to help as many people in this community as possible, and to see an increase in Library social workers across the country. In the two months that we’ve had our website up, I’ve already received over 60 referrals and I have connected with a majority of them. It shows the need for this kind of support in the community, so I see this as a fast growing program.
You can schedule an appointment with Marie here, or submit a form at one of the drop boxes located in each branch of Cambridge Public Library. Ask any Library staff member if you need assistance connecting with Marie. Please allow 48 business hours for Marie to respond to your inquiry.
The Cambridge Public Library Foundation is dedicated to supporting the Cambridge Public Library and its programs that educate, inspire and respond to the needs of our diverse community.