Long Beach's Public Library Department announced Monday that it will join with the city's Department of Health and Human Services in a pilot project to provide help for homeless people found in the library setting.

The program will explore models to integrate social work into existing library services. With help from a Health Department initiative, the LBPL now has two Master's in Social Work students — one from Cal State Long Beach and another from the University of Southern California — working to connect people in the library with social services including mental health care, legal support, food security benefits and housing resources.

Officials said other large urban library systems have had success with offering social service referrals. The idea is for interns to use their social work experience to make people who may need services more comfortable while starting the process of getting help.

"The library is a place where all are welcome, and sometimes such openness invites opportunities to provide resources beyond a quiet space to read and learn," Glenda Williams, director of Library Services, said in a release. “Our Social Work Intern Pilot Project is the library’s way of proactively contributing to the city’s innovative efforts to assist people who are experiencing homelessness, mental health and addiction challenges.”

The two interns will be based at the Mark Twain and Billie Jean King Main libraries. The pilot will run until the end of next May.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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