1. The number of people who are homeless is on the rise, as is library service for them. Still, many librarians and library administrators believe they cannot meet the needs of this group since homelessness is such a complex issue. It often reflects the problems of individuals themselves—hence the idea that the homeless themselves are the “problem”—but it is also attributable to a lack of affordable housing and changes in work and the economy. Nevertheless, there are innovative librarians and libraries working to serve homeless and low-income users. Their efforts fulfill the spirit of the American Library Association Policy 61, inspired by lifelong activist Sanford Berman (see “The Problem Is Poverty,” Blatant Berry). The policy spurs librarians to recognize the “urgent need to respond to the increasing number of poor children, adults, and families in America.”

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    The Problem Is Not the Homeless | LJ Feature Story

    Our Executive Editor Josh Hadro mentioned this LJ story in the comments for the recent Salon story about San Francisco P.L.’s homeless services. Still pertinent!

  2. What Lee does at the San Francisco main library is help homeless and indigent patrons fill fundamental needs–food, shelter, hygiene, medical attention, substance abuse and mental health services. She’s one of five peer counselors, all formerly homeless, who work with a full-time psychiatric social worker stationed at the library to serve its many impoverished patrons. This outreach team, one of the first in the country, is no longer a novelty.

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    Public libraries: The new homeless shelters - Salon.com

    I’m so heartened to read parts of this article:

    In interviews with half a dozen regular guests at the library who identified themselves as homeless, all expressed relief and gratitude for the library’s clean, well-lighted space, and the warmth of the building and its staff. “Nobody acts like I don’t belong here,” said Roger—“just Roger”—a 38-year-old regular who described himself as “sometimes homeless, sometimes not, sometimes using (drugs), sometimes not.”

    but clearly something else is wrong if these services aren’t being provided elsewhere.