With Homeless Increasingly Shut Out Elsewhere, Richmond Library Leans into Role as de facto Day Shelter

“But while some libraries have looked for ways to dissuade the homeless from using their facilities, leaders in Richmond have taken a different tack.

Over the past two years, they have eliminated rules that targeted people without housing by banning such items as large bags and bedrolls and begun adding services aimed at aiding the growing class of patrons. They made it easier for people without state identification to access the library’s computers, which are heavily used by homeless and low-income people for both job searches and entertainment. And, power outlets being an in-demand commodity among the homeless, this month they installed a cellphone charging station.

By April, they plan to hire a part-time social worker to work directly with homeless patrons.”

T.S. Barnwell, who said he visits the library every day, walked into Richmond’s main branch on Friday. Library staff have estimated recently that as many as 70 percent of the visitors are homeless. SHELBY LUM/TIMES-DISPATCH

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St. Cloud, Duluth Add Homeless Teen Programs

“We’re making a lot of progress in our community,” Dornfeld said. “Our goal is to reduce youth homelessness so it’s rare, brief and non-reoccurring.”


An emergency shelter for homeless teens ages 15 to 19, the Loft Shelter will open soon in downtown Duluth and be operated by Life House, a nonprofit.

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Why a New Zealand Library’s Books Kept Vanishing, Then Reappearing

“‘It was really odd and we couldn’t quite figure it out,’ Auckland Libraries manager Rachael Rivera told The Guardian. ‘We thought someone was playing with us, or it was bored kids.’ It was only in one of their regular meetings with the library’s homeless patrons that the solution revealed itself. Unable to get library cards without an address, or fearing damage to books that they checked out, many people had been tucking their books beneath couches or under shelves so that they could return to them without losing their place.”

“‘That community really values the services we offer and treats the books with a great deal of respect,’ Rivera told the British newspaper. ‘A lot of the guys that come in are extremely well-read and have some quite eccentric and highbrow literary tastes. People are homeless for so many different reasons, and being intelligent and interested in literature doesn’t preclude that.’ The library has since established a special bookshelf behind the front desk to store books for this group of about 50 homeless readers.”

Auckland Central Library
Auckland Central Library has a vast collection of books, as well as computers with free internet access. PARENTINGPATCH/CC BY-SA 3.0

At Boston Public Library, New Positions to Help the Homeless

“The new Outreach Manager ‘will work as part of a team providing assessment, crisis intervention and intensive case management services,’ and will be based out of the Boston Public Library’s central branch in Copley Square.

The Copley Square main branch of the Boston Public Library pictured.

Additionally, Boston Public Library is hiring a reference librarian who will specialize in health and human services and recently launched an addiction recovery resources guide, which includes information on substance use and recovery services designed for active users and their loved ones.”

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How Denver Public Library Balances Books And Being A Homeless Shelter

Denver Public Library says its central location is somewhat of a homeless

Elissa Hardy, above, is one of two social workers at the Denver Public Library. She started the position two years ago, to better serve the homeless community at the library. Mary Stansbury, bottom left, is the head of the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Denver. Michelle Jeske, bottom right, is the city librarian for Denver. Michael Sakas/CPR News

“That is a role that we have not asked to play, but are playing,” says Michelle Jeske, the city librarian for Denver.

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Libraries Struggle With A New Role: Social Services Center

“We don’t judge anyone as they come in,” said Hawaii State Librarian Stacey Aldrich. “That’s the beauty of a library. That’s the way it should be. We’re one of the most democratic spaces.”

The Hawaii State Public Library System is seeking $146,556 over fiscal years 2018 and 2019 to hire a manager who would be responsible for training library staff statewide and creating partnerships with social service agencies.

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The Hawaii State Library main branch in Honolulu is one of 50 public libraries in the islands.- Natanya Friedheim/Civil Beat

Dallas Library Strives To Be Haven For Homeless

“A big city library has turned around the way it deals with some of its most marginalized visitors. The Dallas Public Library has committed to not just tolerating—but welcoming—every homeless person who walks through the door.”

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The downtown Dallas Public Library strives to be a place of welcoming, not just tolerance, for homeless population.