“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.”
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.”
“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.”