“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.”
“‘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.”
“This is simply the library doing what the library does — providing learning opportunities and resources for the whole community,” said Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries, in a news release. “It just so happens that this is a once in a generation event, right in our backyard, so it’s been a fun and rather unique chance to share in the experience.”
“It’s like if you don’t go into an area that’s poor, you don’t understand or appreciate the area that’s poor,” City Councilman John Garland, a native Roanoker, said during the kickoff meeting at the Jackson Park Library in Southeast Roanoke.
“It’s pretty important to the Kansas City library that we’re welcoming of all our patrons, everyone who chooses to be here. It doesn’t matter if they’re housed or not. That’s not an issue. Every citizen can use the library,” said AmeriCorps worker Emily Luedtke.
“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.
“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.”
“Being in the downtown area, the Joliet Public Library is uniquely positioned to be able to partner with other organizations to provide assistance to the unsheltered here in Joliet,” said Megan Millen, Executive Director of the Joliet Public Library, in a news release. “Thanks to the generosity of the Joliet community, events like this are able to provide those winter essentials to the less fortunate residents of Will County.”