Public Institutions Offer Much More Than Reading Material
A March 21, 2012, Marketplace report on National Public Radio (NPR), “Homeless, Jobless Flock to Libraries”, drew attention to the growing number of homeless individuals turning to public libraries across the country for shelter and assistance with job skills.
Wanting to be able to provide more to its homeless patrons then simply a chair to sleep in and a bathroom to use to wash up, the San Francisco Public Library responded to this growing trend by hiring the first ever social worker to work out of a library. Serving communities with poverty rates over 15%, other libraries in the U.S. provide job and career counseling along with meal programs that offer a chance to get out of the elements and this is at a time when they face their own steep budget cuts.
Even for those who have found shelter, public libraries remain a resource. David, a formerly homeless man interviewed for the news story still uses the libraries computers to help with his job search.
Have you noticed a similar trend around homelessness in your local New Jersey public library? What services is your library providing? Do social services belong in our libraries or would homeless individuals be better served by being housed in permanent supportive housing that provides wrap around services?