University Libraries.

Meet Your Subject Specialist: Social Welfare

The Library Subject Specialist for Social Welfare is Elaine Lasda Bergman. She has been at the Dewey Library since 2004 and has been Social Welfare Subject Specialist since 2008. 

  1. What kind of background do you have in Social Welfare?  

Although I have always had library subject responsibilities related to social sciences and health care,  I do not have any formal social work training.  I was humbled when former School of Social Work Dean Katharine Briar-Lawson said that as the liaison to the school I am an "honorary social worker." I have almost 2 decades of library experience of which about 1/3 has been as the Social Welfare subject specialist.  


  1. How do you view your role as a library subject specialist?  

I view my role in many ways. I am the go-to person for the social work faculty, staff and students when they need to find a  "needle" in the research haystack.  I am the expert who knows off the top of my head the best library resources to consult when beginning a social work research project or assignment. I can advise faculty on selecting journals for publishing their research and help them with citation searching for their promotion and tenure cases.  My main work focus however, is to bring the MSW  students up to speed on graduate level library research. For them I view myself as a problem solver, a time saver, and their biggest cheerleader! 


  1. What factors do you take into account when adding books and resources to the Social Welfare collection? 

I look for research oriented materials related to social and human services,  theoretical underpinnings of psychotherapy and history of social work.  Secondarily I may add materials with more of a health care, social policy or other focus. I try not to buy textbooks and I try not to buy trade or practical literature as much as the research and theoretical materials as that is our library's mission.  Lately, I've been looking at new resources that are not typical books and journals. Recently we purchased, a collection of 50 streaming videos of prominent psychotherapy techniques.  We also purchased Sage Research Methods, an interesting new database with extensive resources for assisting in conducting and evaluating social science research.  


  1. What are some of your favorite Social Welfare resources? 

Recently we obtained the Oxford Encyclopedia of Social Work, which is a continually updated online encyclopedia.   Because of the new format, the information is always the most current.  My second favorite and wildly underutilized resource is the Comprehensive Handbook of Social Work and Social Welfare, a four volume print set with extensive essays on important topics like social policy, professional development, ethics, and basic micro and macro practice concepts.  For locating journal articles: PsycInfo, Social Work Abstracts, and Social Services Abstracts are my favorites.  


  1.  What advice would you give someone using our library to research in this subject? 

Overall, I think 3 things are critical:  

(1) Take some time to think about your search topic and appropriate keywords before beginning to search.  Maybe even take a pencil and paper and brainstorm some terms.  

(2) Allocate more time than you think you need to do the research for your topic or assignment, this will allow you to request any important materials the library doesn't own.  Interlibrary loan is quicker than ever, but you can't request an item the night before your assignment is due.  

(3) When all else fails, ask me for help! I am available by appointment, email and evening hours on Tuesday nights 5-8pm. 
Contact Elaine Lasda Bergman directly at or 442-3695 to set up an appointment!

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