Extending Our Reach: Reducing Homelessness Through Library Engagement

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Model Programs

Baltimore County (Mary.) Public Library
Street Card-Resources for Help
Created by the Baltimore County Public Library in cooperation with the Baltimore County Communities for the Homeless, the Street Card provides information on employment, food and emergency assistance, health, financial support, legal issues, and shelter.  Information is available in print and online.
Denver (Colo.) Public Library
Community Technology Center
Denver Public Library’s (DPL) Community Technology Center team provides regular visits to the area day shelter for homeless and low-income women. Women receive instruction on job interviewing techniques and technology skills. Once class is over, participants receive bus tokens to go to the main library for a tour and to get 
library cards.
Pima County (Ariz.) Public Library
Homeless Service Agencies
Pima County Public Library’s Homeless Service Agencies guide provides information (phone number, address, description) for local services.  Information is organized into categories (veterans, domestic violence, youth) which may help individuals find the specific help they need.
Queens (N.Y.) Library
New York’s Queens Library provides outreach service to homeless shelters. The library coordinates these services with the city’s Department of Education family shelter liaison. The outreach service promotes the library’s programs, events, and services. The library also highlights family offerings, children’s programs, and job search help.
San Francisco (Calif.) Public Library
San Francisco Public Library formed a homeless and poverty outreach library team in partnership with the city’s Department of Public Health and the SFFirst unit (San Francisco Full-Integrated Recovery Services Team). The full-time, in house social worker and the SFFirst director, a psychiatrist, provide staff training to better serve the community. Their team includes formerly homeless people who go through a 12-week vocational program. These “health and safety associates” reach out to homeless patrons in the library and distribute information on where to find shelter, showers and hot meals.
San Jose (Calif.) Public Library 
Homelessness—A Panel Discussion
In an effort to improve library services to those experiencing homelessness, the San Jose Public Library initiated a panel discussion to help library professionals learn about the issue.  The event brought together library professionals, students, and social workers and the resulting web page compiled resources, statistics, and information.
Traverse Area Library District (This program is no longer active.)
Traverse Area District Library partners with a faith-based winter shelter to offer on-site book club meetings. This partnership fosters outreach and promotes community through open dialogue and shared experiences.