The Denver Public Library has long been interested in providing services for its homeless patrons. In 2012, the DPL formed a Homeless Services Action Committee, an internal group that has worked to provide training and resources — including a social worker — for library staff to help them better address the needs of homeless people. The HSAC came up with the idea for the Sunrise Concerts. “We’re really building a name for ourselves in terms of services to people experiencing homelessness,” says Groene-Nieto, who is a member of the committee. “This is a symbol of our commitment.”
“We’re helping the communities by providing opportunities to the homeless through engagement.”
CHICAGO – This year’s ALA Diversity and Outreach Fair, to be held from 3 – 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 in the Exhibits Special Events Area during the American Library Association’s Annual Conference highlights innovations in library services to people experiencing poverty and homelessness. Additionally, two task forces of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) have joined forces with a wide array of member groups and the San Francisco Public Library to coordinate a book drive which benefits over five bay area community organizations. Book donations will be accepted from June 26-29 in specially-marked bins throughout the conference campus, at the DEMCO booth and at the Diversity & Outreach Fair.
Help us take immediate action to serve people that go without such basics as shelter, food, healthcare and literacy support in the midst of San Francisco’s striking prosperity by selecting a book from the list at www.ala.org/divfair and donating it to the book drive.
Conference attendees are encouraged to bring one new book from the list of recommended titles for donation to designated Bay Area organizations providing shelters, support and transitional housing for youth and families. The goal of the book drive is to collect a range of excellent titles that include books for diverse backgrounds and identities. The donations will be collected in coordination with the San Francisco Public Library to benefit local organizations including Compass Family Shelter, the Providence Foundation of San Francisco, the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, YEAH! (Youth Engagement, Advocacy, and Housing), Homeless Prenatal Program, Westside Community Services and Home Away from Homelessness.
For more information, and to view the list of suggested donation titles, please visit the Diversity & Outreach Fair page at www.ala.org/divfair .
ABOUT SRRT AND ITS TASK FORCES
The Social Responsibilities Round Table has worked effectively to make ALA more democratic and to establish progressive priorities not only for the association, but also for the entire profession. Concern for civil and economic rights was an important element in the founding of SRRT and remains an urgent concern today. SRRT believes that libraries and librarians must recognize and help solve social problems and inequities in order to carry out their mandate to work for the common good and bolster democracy.
The Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force is one of several issue-oriented task forces within SRRT of ALA. In 1990, ALA adopted Policy 61, Library Services for the Poor. This “Poor People’s Policy” was developed to ensure that libraries are accessible and useful to low-income citizens and to encourage a deeper understanding of poverty’s dimensions, its causes and ways it can be ended. In 1996, members of the SRRT formed the Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force to promote and implement Policy 61 and to raise awareness of poverty issues.
The charge of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Task Force is to support and advance the observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday as an American celebration, through collaborative relations with SRRT and the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS), and in cooperation with the caucuses and all other ALA units for a broad spectrum of academic, public, school and special library participation. The task force develops, produces and disseminates materials through workshops, exhibits and other activities to increase public awareness of library resources and programs, to familiarize people of all ages with Dr. King’s work and teachings of peace, nonviolence and service to humanity.
“This project is part of a team effort by the city’s Education Department and its Department of Homeless Services, and will affect 20 shelters throughout the city. Each shelter will have its own library made up of donated books and other reading materials such as magazines.”
The BiblioTec program started as a partnership with Coffee Oasis to bring science and technology classes to homeless and at-risk youth in 2013 and 2014.
“They [homeless people] just need a chance to come in and do something for a couple of hours that isn’t survival-based,” said Rebecca Forth, founder of a new program she calls “Seen and Heard.”
“The American Library Association (ALA) maintains in its “Library Services to the Poor” policy statement that it’s crucial for public libraries to recognize their role in enabling poor people to participate fully in a democratic society. The library has to serve as a uniquely egalitarian place. Moreover, library staffers have a duty to look out for the needs of poor and homeless patrons and strive to provide relevant services.”
“It’s the beautiful messiness of human interaction,” said Alison Kastner, a reader services librarian at the Multnomah library, describing the core idea of My Librarian, and the distinction between it and the coolly logical computer algorithms that comb a shopper’s tastes at sites like Amazon.
“The city drops folks from three shelters off here every morning and picks them up in the evening. So they come here because of that,” said Badalamenti, a social worker who in May became the D.C. Public Library’s first health and human services coordinator.
“But they would come here anyway,” she continued. “The library’s a great place to spend the day for anybody. You get access to computers, you can look for jobs, you can connect with your family and friends on Facebook and e-mail, use [photo software] and do lots of creative things.”
Bridge to Home will be hosting an exhibition at the Valencia Library from February 22nd until March 5, 2014.
Local Photographer and Arts Commissioner Gary Choppe’ will be presenting a selection of images taken of clients at Bridge to Home, a shelter offering hot meals, warm beds, showers, medical help, and job resources. The exhibit also includes an insightful and compelling video. Choppe, a 50-year artist and resident of Santa Clarita, entitled the exhibition “Souls of Hope” because of the optimism displayed by the clients he interviewed and photographed. “They all need our help, support and a roof over their heads,” he explains, “many are just like us and living from paycheck to paycheck.”