Pathfinder Deborah Estreicher: Helping Customers With Serious Life Events

Submitted by Ila Langner on Wed, 07/28/2021 - 10:00 PM
Deborah Estreicher insert on a background with a foot stepping into the street with white arrows pointing in all directions over the words, Social Workers in the Library.

Pathfinder is a series of blogs about intrepid library staff who are leading interesting programs that you may not yet know about.

I've known Librarian Deborah Estreicher for about twenty years now.  She has always been a comforting presence at meetings and committees and has served children, teens, adults and families.  When I think of Deborah Estreicher, I think of someone who is totally committed to a life of service and to meeting the needs of the community.

Deborah has a wide body of knowledge that comes from over thirty years of librarianship.  She has worked at East San Jose Carnegie Library and at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.  Deborah has always placed customer service at the top of her list, no matter where she worked.

While at King Library, she has also worked at the Partners in Reading (PAR) Program, which is committed to providing adults and families with the tools for literacy.  According to the PAR website, PAR is "dedicated to improving the lives of adults by supporting them in basic reading, writing, language, technology, and life skills to engage with greater confidence in all areas of their lives."

The merging of two libraries would provide an opportunity for a customer service-oriented librarian like Deborah.

The Merging of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and the San Jose State University Library

Deborah has encountered all sorts of questions from children, teens, adults, and families.

She tells me,

"Questions, and situations regarding serious life events were brought to me by very desperate library customers.  As with all of our San Jose Public Library librarians, I did my best to respond to these needs by researching and connecting these customers to community resources that could best serve their needs."

Deborah, like many innovators, saw an opportunity to extend the Library's services when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and the San Jose State University Library merged in 2003.

She thought,

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if there could be social workers in the library, offering their expertise, similar to that of Lawyers in the Library, a longstanding San Jose Public Library program?"

And thus, was born Social Workers in the Library.

Social Workers in the Library

A forward thinker, Deborah thought that partnerships would best serve the community's needs.

She contacted San Jose State University's School of Social Work and spoke to Director Peter Allen Lee, who was instrumental in forming a partnership with the Library.  In addition, she also created a partnership with the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter B.

Deborah tells me that this is how the social workers become involved in the program:

  • "After a full day's work, social workers donate their time twice a month in service to the community, as volunteers with Social Workers in the Library."
  • "Borne of years of experience, these community heroes, and members of National Association of Social Workers-California Chapter B, thoughtfully provide our customers":
    • in situations of crisis
    • domestic violence
    • education and employment needs
    • elder abuse
    • food shortage
    • housing needs
    • immigration issues
    • stresses in mental and physical health
    • many other upheavals in life, with information, referral, and advice
  • "In a very respectful, utterly non-bureaucratic setting. In addition to the undivided attention, listening ears and open hearts of the volunteers, language interpretation service is also provided for those that need it."

Recently, she helped to create a virtual platform for Social Workers in the Library.

Social Workers in the Library Goes Virtual!

Because many programs went virtual over the pandemic, Deborah saw another opportunity to reach a wider audience by providing Virtual Social Workers in the Library.

Deborah would like to thank Peter, and Glenn and Cyndy Thomas, of the National Association of Social Workers - California Chapter B, for making this program come to be.  The National Association of Social Workers - California Chapter B are sponsors of this event.

Here are the topics covered at each event:

  • Crisis Support
  • Domestic Violence
  • Education
  • Emergency Services
  • Employment
  • Family Matters
  • Immigration
  • Mental & Physical health and Insurance
  • Support Groups for Men, Women and Children
  • And much, much more


  • Who: For adults 18+
  • What: 20 minute FREE Consultation, REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED
  • When: 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month from 6:00 - 8:00 PM.  The first event is on August 2, 2021.  The next dates after that will be September 20 and October 4, 2021.
  • Waitlists are available.
  • Zoom links are sent 12 hours before the event.
  • To request an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act for library-sponsored events, please call 1-408-808-2000 at least three business days prior to the event.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave your comment below!


Blog Category
Adult Nonfiction
System Programs

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