Community partner: Princeton Department of Human Services

To extend our community outreach, the library partners with many of the municipal, non-profit, and business organizations that make Princeton such an extraordinary town. This series of blog posts will put some of those partners in the spotlight, starting this month with the Princeton Department of Human Services.

The library and the Princeton Department of Human Services (PDHS) regularly work together to create public programming like Welcoming Week, and more targeted endeavors, like the PDHS social work intern who works on-site at the library. We reached out to Melissa Urias, acting director, to learn more about the work that Princeton Department of Human Services does in Princeton:

What is your primary area of focus?
The mission of the Department of Human Services is to help improve the quality of life of individuals in the Princeton community who are vulnerable, economically disadvantaged, or otherwise in need, through advocacy, leadership, and collaboration.

How does your mission align with that of the library? The Department of Human Services has worked closely with the library on several endeavors, including collaborating on the Naturalization Ceremony, and joint efforts to expand resources and information to the community through a social work internship program.   

With whom do you work most in the community?
The Human Services Department collaborates closely with Princeton’s Departments of Health and Affordable Housing and with community agencies and coalitions involved in bettering the lives of individuals and families in Princeton. Close relationships with organizations that address food and income insecurity, and housing stability have streamlined access to resources for Princeton residents in need. Other coordinated efforts have addressed the issues of our youth and concerns for members of our immigrant community. The department has, for example, worked closely with other organizations concerning the legal rights of immigrant families and experiences of wage theft.  

What is something that you do that people might not know about?   Although Princeton is considered a wealthy community, there are members of the community who struggle to meet their basic needs. The Department of Human Services has helped sustain individuals during times of pressing need, occasional emergencies, or unforeseen crises.  During last year’s Griggs Farm and Redding Circle fires, for example, we were able to marshal resources to rehouse families and provide for basic needs until more permanent solutions could be found.   

Is there any project or event that you are particularly excited about at the moment? The Summer Youth Employment program will begin outreach to area youth in March. We will begin accepting applications for summer jobs from March until May.  The program provides resume writing, job readiness, and jobs for an expected 40-45 youth in Princeton.

Is there anything else you would like to highlight?  The Department of Human Services offers information and assistance to individuals in need, but can also serve as a clearinghouse to link community members interested in volunteering resources or time. Please visit the website, or contact Melissa Urias for more information.

There are many ways the library supports the services offered by PDHS through our collections, including:

Librarian By Appointment: If you need help with research that may take longer than asking a quick question at the desk, you can make an appointment to meet with a librarian who will guide you and share the best ways to use the resources the library has to offer.

Social Work Intern: During the school year, the library works with the Department of Human Services and the Rutgers School of Social Work to have a social work intern on site. Check with the Information Desk for the intern’s current schedule. The PDHS also worked with interns to create a Resource List which can be found both on the municipal and library websites.


Education and Careers: Through our databases, community members can access career guidance, resume assistance, GED preparation, and even practice driving tests.

Health and Medicine: Through our health and medicine databases, you can access basic health information gathered through the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, as well as Pillbox – a resource for rapid identification of pills. You can also find Medigap Buyer’s Guide & Premium Calculator through Weiss Financial Ratings.


Welcoming Week

Ask A Lawyer

Citizenship Prep

English Conversation Classes

Wheels Rodeo

And of course, books!

Photo of Melissa Urias by Aylin Martinez.

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