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KPL Cares - Peer Navigators

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KPL Cares - Peer Navigators

Kalamazoo Public Library, Mich.

Anti-Racism, Digital Equity and Inclusion | 2019

Innovation Synopsis

The Kalamazoo Public Library has made the decision to meet our patrons where they are currently at in their lives. We do this by offering peer navigation services and connecting patrons to the resources they need to succeed. KPL's Peer Navigators provide help with housing, addiction, public assistance, mental health and emotional support.


Many of our patrons consider the library a non-stigmatized, democratic space. It is a perfect place to connect people in need with resources. The chance to meet patrons where the feel safest opens the door to building meaningful relationships. KPL staff have welcomed the support because it allows them to curate the resources, without worrying about an untrained interaction. Patrons in need would now rather receive services at the library than the traditional governmental/religious offices.

Key Elements of Innovation

KPL's social justice resolution outlines a commitment to providing library services to all people. Peer Navigators strengthen the connection of that message to patrons we serve. The Peer Navigators have lived a shared experience with the patrons they are helping on a daily basis. The mutuality shared between Peer Navigator and consumer has helped the library staff learn respect and compassion.

Achieved Outcomes

The program started in the fall of 2018 with only three hours of Peer Navigation. This summer, through some generous community support, we will expand to 25-30 hours a week. Between November 2018-April 2019, over 100 individuals have made a connection with a Peer Navigator and have been given services. Recently, we started distributing care packages. Each month we host coffee and conversations. Incidents have increased.