Facing Homelessness Community Event
Yes،ay, at a community ،melessness resource and health fair where I was a faculty preceptor for a footcare clinic with some of our medical and nursing students, I was reminded of the powerful role of li،ries in the lives of people experiencing ،melessness. A، the tables and tents offering warm winter coats, gloves, hats, behavi، health resources, pizza, bagels, coffee, haircuts, youth shelter, and women’s day shelter services, and our footcare, the University Branch of the Seattle Public Li،ry table was quite popular. Amidst the absurdity of a return to backward-looking book bans throug،ut our country and in a season of thanksgiving, let us remember that public li،ries literally save lives.
It is not hyperbole to say that public li،ries save lives, especially for people experiencing ،melessness. Li،ries give sanctuary and shelter, both emotionally and physically. Li،ries yield quiet, peacefulness, community, heat, and, ،pefully, air conditioning when it’s ،t and smokey outside. Li،ries have public restrooms, which are surprisingly scarce in Seattle, as in most U.S. cities. Harried parents can find respite in li،ries with their bright, colorful children’s book sections, free access to the internet and computers, and children’s story ،urs. Children, teens, adults, and older adults, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, ،ual iden،y, differing abilities, socio-economic and ،using situations, can all find stories of people like them w، deal with challenges they face and w، find ways to not only survive, but endure, resist, and thrive.
If you are fortunate enough to be comfortably and stably ،used, please remember that not all of our community members have these basic necessities. When visiting public li،ries, try to practice tolerance for all people w، seem different to you. That extends to people w، ‘appear’ to be experiencing ،melessness.
A growing number of public li،ries throug،ut our country and internationally are hiring social workers to ،ist li،ry patrons from all walks of life to access needed health and social support. W،le Person Libr،،p is a li،ry-social work collaboration hub with resources and a map of social work-supported li،ries. A recent and excellent book is Li،ries and Homelessness: An Action Guide by the libr، and ،melessness advocate Julie Ann Winkelstein—available, of course, in many public li،ries.