Understanding and Serving People Experiencing Homelessness: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Library Service

A Two-Part Webinar Series

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

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

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.


At the conclusion of this on-demand webinar series, participants will:

  • Be able to identify common causes of homelessness among adults, youth, and families;
  • Describe the impact of exposure to trauma on children and adults, including potential triggers; and
  • Recognize core principles of a trauma-informed approach to library service.

Additional Resources

Resources and Links

Kathleen Guarino:

Meaghan O'Connor:

Marnie Webb:

Who Should Attend

All public library staff.


Kathleen GuarinoKathleen Guarino, LMHC is the director of training at The National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research, where she develops program models, resources, and training curricula on homelessness, trauma, and trauma-informed care. Kathleen trains on traumatic stress, trauma-informed care, and vicarious trauma and provider self-care, and provides individualized consultation to organizations across the country to support trauma-informed programming. Kathleen is a licensed mental health clinician with experience providing therapeutic services to children and families in residential and outpatient settings. She received her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Boston College and holds a certificate in Traumatic Stress Studies from the Trauma Center in Brookline, Mass.

Meaghan O'ConnorIn Part II, Kathleen is joined by Meaghan O'Connor, assistant director of programs and partnerships at the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL). Meaghan provides strategic oversight for library programming and partnerships across all 26 DCPL locations. This includes projects ranging from planning a new DCPL branch within the D.C. jail to implementing a Knight Foundation Prototype project exploring Open211 referral systems. Prior to joining DCPL, Meaghan worked for IREX managing Gates Foundation-funded access to information/library development programs in Eastern Europe. Meaghan received her MLS from Simmons College and was selected as part of the 2008 American Library Association Emerging Leaders program and the 2015 PLA Leadership Academy.

Marnie WebbIn Part II, Kathleen is also joined by Marnie Webb, the CEO of Caravan Studios, a division of TechSoup Global, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Caravan Studios’ collaborative approach uses a theory of technology intervention to allow communities to respond to the issues they care about most. Funded by Microsoft Citizenship, Blue Shield of California Foundation, and Vodafone Americas Foundation, SafeNight represents Caravan Studios’ belief that technology can be used to illuminate issues, identify problems, and evoke action.



This on-demand webinar series is free and available 24/7 for your viewing convenience.

How to Register

No registration is required.

Tech Requirements

To playback these archived webinars you should have either the latest version of Flash running on your computer, or use a browser with native HTML5 support. Please use the most up-to-date version available of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer. A fast Internet connection and computer is recommended.

Credits or CEUs

PLA does not award credit hours, or CEUs, for its on-demand webinars and cannot verify participation.


If you have questions or problems accessing a recording, send a message to plawebinars@ala.org or call 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752).