Extending Our Reach: Reducing Homelessness Through Library Engagement

Steps to Getting Started

Take a breath. You did not create the situations that cause homelessness and you probably will not be the superhero who solves them all. You are here to do your part and you are not alone.
 
Open your mind. The best place to start is with our own feelings and perceptions. What do you think of when you think of homeless people? How do you think the library plays a role in their lives? 
 
Get the stats. What is the reality of homelessness in your area? Check local statistics. Ask your local community leaders and service agencies for input. This may come in handy when you speak to your supervisor, the library board, local elected officials, or to library funders.
 
Read. There are many articles and books on homelessness. Read a few to help get a better understanding. Don’t forget local newspapers, newsletters, and social media.  You can even sign up for online newsletters, so you will automatically be kept current with issues, workshops, legislation and other topics related to homelessness.
 
Discuss. Share your concerns and plans with your colleagues. They are working in the same community as you and are probably as concerned and as uncertain about the same issues. Sometimes a team effort can be more meaningful and motivating than an individual one. 
 
Don’t worry. You will make mistakes. Things will not always work out. Partners won’t always come through. People will not always be as supportive as you would like. Just revise your plan and keep going. 
 
Reflect. You are learning and developing new and much-needed library services for some of your community members. Everyone benefits!