Santa Clara Library District Adds New Type of Position to Connect Patrons to Services
Position will be based at Milpitas Library and Gilroy Migrant Center
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – In an effort to better connect its patrons with key services, the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) has created a new Community Outreach Specialist position. Erik Poicon, the inaugural holder of the position, will split time between the Milpitas Library and the Ochoa Migrant Center in Gilroy, which is a Bookmobile partner site.
“The Community Outreach Specialist brings an additional skillset into our libraries that will enable us to more proactively respond to the needs of our patrons,” said County Librarian Jennifer Weeks. “Libraries are central places of access and opportunity for our community. From employment resources to local food banks, Erik will build connections between people and the many public and nonprofit services that can best assist them.”
The Community Outreach Specialist will do more than just share contact information for service agencies. He will help ensure that there is a warm handoff with key support staff so that they understand the specific needs of patrons and to reduce any barriers to access. Whether the need be among the unhoused for shelter, health related inquiries, or help finding a job, the position will work closely with library staff to make sure that people find what they are seeking.
“Librarians are experts in connecting people with information,” said Mike Wasserman, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and President of the Library Joint Powers Authority Board. “This position builds on this existing relationship with the public and allows libraries to go further in connecting people in need with the government and nonprofit services that they require.”
Poicon has previously worked as a community organizer at Groundworks working on public outreach, as part of the 2020 U.S. Census efforts, and most recently as head of the COVID-19 Positive Relief Team for the Community Services Agency of Mountain View. His duties as the Community Resource Specialist include connecting SCCLD libraries to local resources, including other county, state and federal public agencies. Poicon also helps patrons fill out forms to access services and provides follow up with individuals after referrals are made.
In order to amplify the impact of the new position, Community Resource spaces have been set aside at Milpitas Library and the Ochoa Migrant Camp, with information provided in multiple languages. Poicon, who is bilingual in Spanish, will have a dedicated working space at both sites. The Ochoa Migrant Camp is open nine months of the year to support migrant farm workers and is utilized for the remaining months to provide temporary housing.
Collaboration has already taken place with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, 211 (United Way), Milpitas Senior Services, EAH Housing, and other County departments. The position is partially funded by a California State Library Community Connections grant. The addition of the Community Outreach Specialist position by the Library District is part of a 21st Century approach to working together with the larger community to assist those in need. More information on this subject can be found at sccld.org/community-resources/.