Homelessness and the library: an empathy-driven approach
For Immediate Release
American Library Association
CHICAGO — Homelessness is a perennial topic of concern at libraries. In fact, staff at public libraries interact with almost as many homeless individuals as staff at shelters do. Empathy and understanding, along with specific actionable advice that’s drawn from experience, makes all the difference in working with this group. Published by ALA Editions, “The Librarian's Guide to Homelessness: An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone” is filled with to-the-point guidance that will help front line public library staff and managers understand and serve this population better. Author Ryan J. Dowd, executive director of a homeless shelter, spotlights best practices drawn from his own shelter’s policies and training materials. This resource:
- includes facts about homelessness every librarian should know;
- debunks widespread myths about these individuals, explaining how they see themselves, what issues they struggle with, and how libraries can shift towards supporting them;
- shares de-escalation techniques like showing respect, ways to avoid making things personal, and using proper body language;
- walks readers through dealing with common issues like a sleeping patron, questionable hygiene, offensive behavior, and asking a patron to leave; and
- advises on how to provide backup to a colleague and when to call the police.
Dowd has spent most of his career as Executive Director of a large homeless shelter near Chicago. In addition, he trains organizations around the globe (including libraries, homeless shelters, and hospitals) on how to use empathy-driven enforcement with homeless individuals. For more information, visit http://www.homelesslibrary.com.
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