Information and referral service has for decades brought to mind, for public librarians, an essential element of their responsibility to their local communities. As the 211 concept has spread through the nation, however, we have done less to put ourselves in the forefront of how our communities can remember that we are–or should be–well-positioned as leaders and enablers of other local agencies to carry out this support work. As the weather gets colder and a variety of festival holidays approach, maybe now is the time to evaluate your library’s standing in your local 211 service node. Here is a quick list of questions to get the process started:
- Are staff members aware of the local 211 service area, including its geographic breadth and vital service connections’ depth?
- Has your library completed thenpaperwork rerquired to be listed as a service provider with the local 211 network?
- Beyond that paperwork, is there an active connection–in the form of a staff assignment–to ongoing local 211 meetings and policy-making work?
- Are other social service providers who a linked to your local 211 network given the opportunity to learn about what and how your library can assist them in building and strengthening their service responses?
- Is the 211 network, with its charge stated in brief, marketed throughout your library, both within the building(s) and on your web page?
- Is your oversight board aware of 211? Do any board members hold positions in other 211-represented service groups and organizations?
- Are you replicating the collecting of data that your local 211 also collects? Could money and staff time be saved were the efforts combined? Which is the most suitable staff or agency to do this collection?
- How can your library help the local 211 consortium to becme more responsive to more needs in the community you both serve?
- When library staff are provided opportunities for service aspects of trainng, are 211 partners invited to participate, either as training providers or as part of the cohort receiving training?