people know a good thing when they have it! For a
number of years, Emily Nahat, as the Deputy
Director at the First
5 California Children and Families Commission,
enjoyed the benefits of an interagency contract
for enhanced library service with the California
State Library. Now Chief of Prevention and Early
Intervention at the California
Department of Mental Health (CDMH), Nahat and
her new CDMH team are responsible for implementing
key dictates of the Mental
Health Services Act (Proposition 63, November
2004), specifically helping mitigate mental
illness in children and youth before their
conditions become problematic to society, their
families, and themselves. Knowing her staff must
have reliable and timely mental health research to
best serve the state of California, Nahat has
initiated another contract with the California
State Library (CSL).
Librarian Peggy Fish enjoys working with
Department of Mental Health.
CDMH-CSL contract stipulates that the CSL will
make available to the CDMH a team of staff
members, including a full-time reference
librarian, a job the CSL has assigned to Peggy
Fish who has a new MLIS degree, numerous contacts
in the mental health community, and experience
with a nonprofit for the homeless.
the start, Fish has enjoyed working with the CDMH.
Within a week of working on the project, she
attended a meeting of the committee that oversees
implementing the Mental Health Act and learned
what the staff hired to implement the Act needed.
Fish immediately deduced that this CDMH program,
which focuses on early mental health intervention,
suicide prevention, reduction of stigma and
discrimination, community and school-based
services, maternal depression, primary care
intervention, juvenile justice, and foster care,
demands that the CSL deliver cutting-edge
resources on these topics.
stays aware of the current concerns of the
researchers and program managers at CDMH by
visiting the staff onsite at least once a week.
Most of the CDMH staff is quite skilled at
research but when they get stuck, they call Fish.
One challenging CDMH research question for Fish
has been how CDMH researchers might tap into
social programs that combat the debilitating
stigma attached to mental health disease. Even
though traditional sources don’t address the “stigma”
question, Fish has stretched her skills by
contacting organizations about which additional
resources would supply the answer to the CDMH
addition to working on difficult reference
questions, Fish is unearthing recent studies in
the mental health field from which she produces an
electronic bibliography to circulate to the CDMH
staff twice a month.
the CSL’s role in assisting with this initiative
is still evolving, the CSL and Peggy Fish are
satisfying the specialized information needs of
the CDMH by listening intently, studying the
field, and developing strong library staff
interest. Now that the CSL has successfully
expanded library services to two state agencies,
First Five and the CDMH, CSL leaders are
considering using the two inter-agency contracts
as alternative models for service to the rest of
more information about the CSL’s expanded
services to state agencies, please contact Sabah
Eltareb in the State Information and Reference
Center at the California State Library at (916)
654-0040 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.