‘A great resource’

Library associate helps people navigate community programs at county branches

ALBERT J. COUNTRYMAN Jr./The Sun

Ready to help families and individuals applying for jobs or needing assistance at the Cinnaminson library on Wednesdays are library system associate Talie Meza and reference librarian Scott Homan.

The manager of the Lifelong Learning and Reference teams of the Burlington County Library System (BCLS), Rosy Wagner, was thinking of ways to better serve residents and patrons, especially those experiencing difficult times.

With the help of Anthony Maxakas, a county library intern from the Rutgers School of Social Work, she created the Community Resource Navigators program.

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“I joined the BCLS (Burlington County Library System) team shortly before the program was finally able to start going out to branches,” said the system’s associate of digital learning Talie Meza, who took out her large binder full of social-services contacts during a visit to the Cinnaminson branch on Oct. 4.

“Anthony and I would table together until he finished his internship,” she recalled. “I’m now carrying the torch for the program and we are eagerly awaiting to have another intern on board at some point,” added Meza, a resident of Marlton and currently a graduate student studying library science at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

She sets up her table at Cinnaminson library every other Wednesday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., and does the same at the Pemberton branch on alternate Wednesdays. For information or exact dates, go to www.bcls.nj.us.

No appointment is needed, and Meza helps people applying for jobs, looking for affordable housing, in need of financial assistance, dealing with substance-abuse problems or suffering from mental-health issues.

“My job is to point people in the right direction,” explained Meza, who graduated in January from the College of New Jersey with a degree in journalism and professional writing.

“I always wanted to be a librarian – I like fact-checking and writing,” she noted, emphasizing how those skills helped her put together the Community Resource Document binders at all of the BCLS libraries. “I update the binders every two to three months by checking what new services are available.”

Eventually, Meza would like to digitize the Community Resource Navigators Program so it would be easily available online.

“It’s a great resource, especially when we get stumped,” said Scott Homan, a reference librarian at the Cinnaminson branch who also helps people seeking assistance.

The navigator service is available on a drop-in basis to connect people with the best assistance for their needs, support them through an online application or help them find the right contact information for a local program.

“One week I helped a man apply for a job,” Meza relteed. “He came in the next time and said he got the job. It makes me happy when I can help someone.”

Besides being in graduate school and serving as a community resource navigator, she also teaches Intro to Computers at the BCLS main branch in Westampton.

“I am very interested in digital literacy. I like making folks more comfortable with computers and technology,” said Meza, who graduated from the Burlington County Alternative High School in Mount Laurel.

For the future, she is excited about becoming a librarian and using her journalism skills.

“I help write articles for the BCLS website, and I enjoyed being an intern at WHHY Public Television in Philadelphia,” noted Meza, once a writing instructor in a program the station had for teenagers.

For now, she is helping county residents who need assistance.

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