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Outreach to Victims Through Public Libraries—Illinois

In 2002, Illinois used a collaboration between state government agencies and victim service providers to deliver information and materials to the public through a longstanding community resource: the public library. The Illinois Court of Claims, under the direction of the Illinois Secretary of State's office, handles crime victim compensation funds in the state. In an effort to broaden outreach and knowledge of the funds, the Court developed the Assistance for Victims of Violence Program. The program used the Illinois public library system as a place to house information. The library system also fell under the Secretary of State's umbrella and therefore was easily accessible for this project. The information given to libraries included materials on victim service providers throughout the state. Both the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) and the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) joined the project so their information would also be available at the public libraries.

The Assistance for Victims of Violence Program partners with public library systems to enhance public awareness about the compensation benefits and other resources available for sexual assault victims statewide.

Making the Idea a Reality
Representatives from each of the four collaborating agencies met several times to produce material for the libraries and plot training dates. The group developed a notebook with overview information and posters for each public library and smaller brochures for patrons. The notebook was sent to each public library in the state. It included detailed information on the Court of Claims as well as the application for victim compensation and general information on domestic violence and sexual assault. It also included a complete list of centers that help victims in Illinois (e.g., centers for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence shelters). Two-hour trainings were held in each of the State Library System's nine zones as part of regular training days that librarians attended. The trainings included presentations by the Court of Claims and ICASA and ICADV representatives. Often local center representatives would attend to network with local librarians.

Benefits to Victims
Victims of violence benefited from the program through increased knowledge of victim compensation and improved access to the material about it. Also, local librarians became aware of programs that assist victims of violence and could pass the information to those in need.

Benefits to Victim Service Professionals 
The program benefited victim service providers by increasing the public's awareness of their services. The library settings also provided a discreet way to disseminate materials to victims who may have been hesitant to contact sexual assault service providers directly.

Contact Information
Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault
100 North 16th Street
Springfield, IL 62703