Director’s Brief: Libraries and Homelessness – Becoming a Resource Hub

I hope you’ll take a moment to read my director’s brief project on libraries and homelessness. It canvasses how we can become a resource hub for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. It was hard, but I had to pick just a few practical ideas in order to stay within the project length guidelines. Really it’s such a broad conversation. The articles I reviewed as part of the creation process for this project were very encouraging and reminded me again why this is such a special profession to be a part of!

This report addresses the key question of why individuals experiencing homelessness use libraries to meet their needs, and what libraries can do to enhance their services to this user group. The experiences of the Seattle Public Library and other institutions are referenced in reviewing core areas where libraries can take practical steps to ensure information access, interact with empathy, and create equity. Examples of steps to examine are: providing mobile internet access at homeless camps, training staff on gentle interaction with patrons in the library setting, and creating library cards for those without a fixed physical address.

After much fiddling, I still have been unable to upload the PDF directly to this blog due to size limits, so for the time being I will link to my personal Google Drive.

One thought on “Director’s Brief: Libraries and Homelessness – Becoming a Resource Hub

  1. Jacqueline says:

    Hi Patrick,

    I really enjoyed reading your Brief. You make a lot of excellent points, and homelessness is a very relevant topic. I read Ryan Dowd’s book this summer and found it really enlightening. One thing he mentioned in the book which we as staff implement in my library is when talking to a homeless patron, we always approach by introducing ourselves. So, “hi, my name is Jacqueline, I work here! How is your day going today/what’s your name?” This immediately sets the tone of a friendly conversation and builds some trust.
    I also liked how you mentioned special cards for the purpose of equity. Equity is so important when it comes to libraries, and the system I currently work for offers a computer card, which allows patrons to access the computers and all digital resources without an ID, or a temporary card with just an ID but no proof of address to check out 2 physical items at a time. Patrons without an address can also become full-service card holders if they get a signed letter from the local resource center. I’m interested to see what other solutions libraries come up with in order to grant better access to people experiencing houselessness.
    Anyway, great job! This is definitely a subject that needs more conversation.

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