“Libraries attract a fair share of homeless and mentally ill,” said Wendy Hopkins, bureau chief for the California State Library’s Development Services Bureau. “We’re here to serve communities and many people come looking for answers to their problems.”
“Brooklyn Public Library is proud to serve the diverse needs of a diverse borough—and when families cannot reach us, we will bring our collections and programs to them,” said Nick Higgins, Director of Outreach Services for Brooklyn Public Library. “By partnering with agencies like DHS, we are able to serve the community beyond our 60 branches, ensuring that families from every walk of life can access our free, life-transforming resources.”
“Citing a desire to address the needs of homeless and at-risk people using the library, Library Executive Director David Seleb said the move is to create a safe and welcoming environment for all library patrons.”
Shannon Butler, the social work intern at the Carbondale Public Library, has helped to find homes for at least four individuals, said the library’s director, Diana Brawley Sussman.
”(She) has successfully placed a few people in houses simply by talking to landlords, finding a price point that works for the landlord and the person’s budget and getting … asking the landlord to waive some of the upfront fees,” Sussman said.
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.”
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”