“Public libraries provide the homeless with a way to connect, and many homeless say that browsing the stacks and reading a book there eases a weary street-level perspective of life.”
“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.”
Courtney Young, President of the American Library Association, says that in times of economic hardship, more people turn to and depend on libraries and librarians for help.
“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.
”(Libraries) are on the front line whether they want to or not,” said Jeremy Rosen, director of advocacy at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, an advocacy group.
Homeless outreach is part of an overall 47 percent increase in library programs from 2004 to 2011, according to a June report by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, located in downtown Dallas, produces a podcast about homelessness , put together by AmeriCorps volunteers and library employees such as Jasmine Africawala. The podcast has drawn nearly 5,000 plays and downloads since first airing in March.
Ryan Smith, the technical director for the podcast, said the success of the program is due to the show’s focus on equality and respect. “Homelessness is a situation you find yourself in,” Smith said. “It’s not who you are as a person.”
“We are very happy to receive this recognition,” said Library Director Jill Jean. “We are even more excited about what is to come. Already as we have begun our strategic planning process for the next five years, we have identified some new and additional ways that the library can help support and connect our community.”
Kitsap Regional Library ’s initiatives include BiblioTEC, which focuses on getting homeless and at-risk youth access to cutting-edge technology training, equipment and mentorship and the first kids eReading Room.
Pima County Public Library (PCPL) is being recognized for offering the first of its kind unique program and collaboration.