Northeast Ohio Regional Library System - Event Information - Northeast Ohio Regional Library System
Virtual Outreach: Social Services and Public Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Customer Service and Community Awareness
Public libraries often are safe spaces for patrons seeking shelter, warmth, information, quiet, and a sense of community. But what happens when a public health pandemic impedes our abilities as librarians to provide outreach and supportive resources to patrons living on the fringes of our neighborhoods, cities and towns when our doors closed and traditional librarianship went virtual? Ally Dowds will discuss outreach efforts developed during the beginning months of the COVID-19 shutdown and how the Boston Public Library continued to reach patrons where they are while preserving existing partnerships with local organizations and forging new ones to maintain access and dissemination of supportive public health services to its community members.
Learn how Boston Public Library continued to reach patrons where they are while preserving existing partnerships with local organizations
Learn how Boston Public Library created new partnerships to maintain access and dissemination of supportive public health services to its community members
Find out how you can adapt this model for your library
Ally Dowds is the Public Services Division Head for Reading Public Library in Massachusetts. She was previously the Health & Human Services Librarian for the Boston Public Library. In that role, Ally fostered strategic partnerships with local public health organizations, emergency shelters, and human service agencies to provide supportive services to patrons experiencing homelessness, substance use and mental health. She also performed weekly outreach to local shelters to eliminate barriers to library access, programming and resources. Prior to this position, Ally worked in the BPL’s Teen Central and served as a consultant for ALA's Great Stories Club, where she facilitated a library-led book discussion group at a local middle school focused on the emotional, behavioral, and learning needs of its students. Discussions were designed around the theme of Empathy: The Cost of Switching Sides, allowing students to read, reflect, and share ideas on topics that resonate with them.
Ally holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Loyola University of Chicago, a MLIS from Simmons College, and a Consumer Health Information Specialization through the Medical Library Association. Outside of work, she is happiest spending simple moments with her husband, 19-month old, and 8-year old rescue pup.