Understanding and Serving People Experiencing Homelessness: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Library Service
In January of 2014, there were 578,424 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States. Homelessness among children and families has risen to an historic high. Adults, youth, and families experiencing homelessness face a wide range of challenges including lack of affordable housing, employment opportunities, healthcare, social connections, and other needed services, as well as high rates of exposure to traumatic stressors that impact health and well-being. As homelessness increases, so does the significant intersection between homelessness and library service. This two-part series addresses the prevalence, causes, and impact of homelessness and related trauma on children and adults, while exploring ways to address homelessness in public libraries.
Part I covers prevalence and causes of homelessness and also the impact of these traumatic experiences on adults and children, with a link to the intersection between homelessness and public libraries.
Originally presented June 3, 2015.
Part II continues with ways to respond to homelessness in a public library setting—including some of the models that currently exist, as well as the concept of “trauma-informed” library services and what the core principles of this approach look like.
Originally presented June 10, 2015.
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Resources and Links
Kathleen Guarino’s Slideshow, Part I (PDF, 26 pgs.)
Kathleen Guarino’s Slideshow, Part II (PDF, 13 pgs.)
Model Programs (from ALA’s Extending Our Reach: Reducing Homelessness Through Library Engagement Toolkit):
Baltimore County (Md.) Public Library Street Card
Denver (Colo.) Public Library Community Technology Center
Pima County (Ariz.) Public Library Homeless Service Agencies
Queens (N.Y.) Library
San Francisco (Calif.) Public Library
San Jose (Calif.) Public Library Homelessness Panel Discussion
Traverse Area (Mich.) District Library
Meaghan O’Connor’s Slideshow (PDF, 37 pgs.)
“After Being Homeless, Former Government Worker Struggles to Maintain Identity” (WAMU 88.5)
“D.C. adds a social worker to library system to work with homeless patrons” (Washington Post)
Extending Our Reach: Reducing Homelessness Through Library Engagement Toolkit (American Library Association)
Marnie Webb’s Slideshow (PDF, 4 pgs.)
Range (Caravan Studios)
Help Spread the Word (Caravan Studios)
TechSoup for Libraries