150% homeless increase in Cleveland's public schools

“In December, when Project ACT, a social service program for homeless students run by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, asked a group of homeless parents what they wanted for Christmas, the parents responded with wish lists worthy of Little Dorrit: toilet paper, bleach, paper towels, food.”

This story, along with others, appears in the article, “Hope for the Homeless: With homeless rates at record highs, America needs a bold new housing policy” (The Nation, Feb. 9, 2009).

224,000 students are homeless in California.
In Boston, homeless families number 3,870.
9,700 homeless families seek shelter in New York City every night.


“The number of Americans who say their lives are a struggle climbed steeply last year from less than half the population to nearly six in 10 people, a vast Gallup poll showed Friday.”

“US unemployment jumped to a 16-year high of 7.2 percent as a deepening recession pushed employers to shed a massive 524,000 jobs in December, capping the worst annual performance since 1945.”

Berkeley Public Library (BPL) denied waiver

Berkeley Public Library’s controversial RFID checkout system was bought out by 3M in 2008. 3M refused to sign the standard City of Berkeley forms requiring that they will not, for the life of the contract, work for nuclear weapons or do business with oppressive states (as defined by the City of Berkeley). The Peace and Justice Commission denied a waiver for 3M. The final decision rests with the Berkeley City Council.

Comics for community organizing, outreach and education

Graphic novels are a suitable medium for illustrating cold, hard facts. They can literally put a face on morbid, impersonal economic reality. Lois Ahrens understands this and perfects the medium well in the graphic novel, The Real Cost of Prisons Comix. This collective work, part of the Real Cost of Prisons Project, which initially began with the work of economists, reveals the human cost of the prison industry, where 2.3 million people a day are locked up in our nation’s prisons. The work is in three parts, “Prison Town,” “Prisoners of the War on Drugs,” and “Prisoners of a Hard Life.” “Prison Town” details the economic incentives behind mandatory sentencing guidelines and describes how the prison industry thrives in rural America, driving out local businesses and eroding community. “Prisoners of the War on Drugs” relates how racism, sexism, and classism fuels the prison industry. “Prisoners of a Hard Life” provides personal stories of women prisoners and their children. The illustrations, all in stark black and white, are paired beautifully with the text. Each section ends with reader responses, from community organizers to academics to prisoners and there is a glossary of terms used in the book. The series is designed as an educational tool for anyone who is interested or affected, which given current statistics, is one in every 32 Americans.

A library survey that targets homelessness

Edward Robinson-El, the new manager of D.C.’s West End Library, welcomes everyone in the library, including homeless people, but some West End Friends are not as hospitable. The issue has so divided this community that some feel it would be better to close the library for a time. See the West End Library Friends customer survey.

Care to comment? Email the DC Library: commentssuggestions.dcpl@dc.gov

or The West End Library Friends group:

Struggling college students turn to food banks

Whitney Malkin sees similarities between the homeless, working poor, and college students…. Here are excerpts from her article:

“Right now, with things the way they are, a lot of students just can’t afford to eat,” said Terry Capleton, who started a Facebook group called “I Ain’t Afraid to be on Food Stamps” when he was a student at Benedict College in South Carolina….

Deirdre Wilson, a junior at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C., applied for food stamps in November because her paycheck from a work-study job didn’t stretch far enough to cover her expanding grocery bill.

ALA Task Force Member Survey on Policy 61

The HHPTF, in partnership with the OLOS Subcommittee on Library Services to Poor and Homeless People, reported the findings from the ALA Task Force Member Survey on Policy 61.

Here is the full report:

Summary of the ALA Task Force Survey on ALA Policy 61 Library Services for the Poor.pdf

Attendees were asked for their input as well. Your comments and suggestions are welcome and will be compiled in a final report during the 2009 ALA Midwinter Meeting. Please send us your comments and suggestions.

If you are a library actively serving the poor please share your information and resources on the Library Success Wiki page.

Building Communities Through Libraries Panel Discussion

Join us on Saturday, June 28, 1:30-3:30 pm, at the ALA Anaheim 2008 Annual Conference in the Disneyland Hotel Dreams D room for our Building Communities Through Libraries free panel discussion.

Find out how special and academic librarians are providing information outreach services that address community needs such as healthcare, literacy and education. Special and academic librarians will talk about successful partnerships that have led to lessening the knowledge gap and reducing information impoverishment.

Speakers: John Buschman, Associate University Librarian, Georgetown University Library; Dorothy Warner, Professor-Librarian, Rider University; Nancy McKeehan, Assistant Director of Libraries for Systems, Medical University of South Carolina
Library; Eileen Abels, Master’s Program Director and Associate Professor, College of Information Science & Technology at Drexel University; Denise E. Agosto, Associate Professor, College of Information Science & Technology at Drexel University

Chair: Lisa Gieskes, Coordinator, HHPTF