Helping Patrons Through Hard Times

Washington State Library sees library patrons suffering and they are offering assistance. Their partnership with the Washington State Employment Security Department/WorkSource (ESD) provides information/training; online resources; face-to-face training for library staff with employment services staff; online training on topics of interest; and programs for volunteers to help neighbors in the library all in an effort to get communities through these hard times. See Hard Times online.

D.C.'s 2010 Homeless Services Budget cut of 20M

“D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) said Friday that the $11 million cut in local funding and $9 million cut in federal funding for homeless services was revealed to him Thursday as he prepared for an oversight hearing.

‘Obviously, I was taken by surprise and furious because we have a tenuous relationship with the community as it is,” said Wells, chairman of the Human Services Committee, which oversees the city agency responsible for serving the homeless. “You have to have honesty and transparency in actions, and this undercuts the relationship we’ve developed with the community.’”

For the full article click here.

Plant a Row for the Hungry

Plant A Row
is a public service program of the Garden Writers Association and the GWA Foundation. Their program helps feed hungry Americans.

They write, “According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 in 8 households in the United States experiences hunger or the risk of hunger. Many frequently skip meals or eat too little, sometimes going without food for an entire day. Approximately 33 million people, including 13 million children, have substandard diets or must resort to seeking emergency food because they cannot always afford the food they need. The demand for hunger assistance has increased by 70% in recent years, and research shows that hundreds of hungry children and adults are turned away from food banks each year because of lack of resources…

There are over 84 million households with a yard or garden in the U.S. If every gardener plants one extra row of vegetables and donates their surplus to local food agencies and soup kitchens, a significant impact can be made on reducing hunger.”

Do homeless people have legal privacy rights in our public libraries?

As long as we keep defining them as homeless they won’t according to two recent feature articles in Public Libraries: “Aiming High, Reaching Out, and Doing Good” and “Problems Associated with Mentally Ill Individuals in Public Libraries.” You can infer a lot about these articles given their titles. The first was written by a reference librarian, Linda Tashbook, the other by three mental health professionals, who advocate that mental health professionals should provide consulting services to public libraries. The librarian tells us that homeless people can be our best patrons considering their informational needs: law, justice, and citizenship, and that they, more than anyone, can appreciate the public library as a bastion of democracy. Tashbook writes, “Reaching out to prospective and present yet disconnected homeless patrons with legal information engages their interest and also helps to reduce their disenfranchisement; they can’t be completely distinct from society if a venerable institution like the library knows about the facts of their existence and acknowledges that they have legal rights applicable to that existence.” The mental health professionals state that there is a pandemic of problematic individuals threatening the future of public libraries, but they base their argument on faulty logic and a flawed survey. Their solution for libraries with homeless patrons is for them to “identify the 10 percent of problematic individuals and ensure they receive treatment for their psychiatric disorders. This can be done in a number of ways, including through the use assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), which requires such individuals to follow a treatment plan (including in some jurisdictions taking medication) as a condition for living in the community.” Since when is the library a place to keep the community out of? Wouldn’t that be taking the public out of public libraries?