Poor and/or Homeless Library Patrons

People experiencing poverty or homelessness constitute a significant portion of users in many libraries today and this population provides libraries with an important opportunity to change lives.  As the numbers of poor children, adults, and families in America rises, so does the urgent need for libraries to effectively respond to their needs.

Access to library and information resources, services, and technologies is essential for all people, especially the economically disadvantaged, who may experience isolation, discrimination and prejudice or barriers to education, employment, and housing.

Policies and guidelines

ALA Policy B.8.10 Library Services for the Poor (formerly Council Document 61)from the ALA Policy Manual

Guidelines for the Development of Policies and Procedures Regarding User Behavior and Library Usage - Adopted by the Intellectual Freedom Committee, January 24, 1993; revised November 17, 2000; revised January 19, 2005



Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force of ALA's Social Responsibilities Round Table - a compilation of recent articles in the press, resources to aid the poor and/or homeless, and organizations that work for the benefit of the homeless and the poor.

Outreach Resources for Services to Poor and Homeless People from ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS)

Services for the Poor and Homeless from Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki (ARCHIVED)


Holt, Leslie Edmonds, and Glen E. Holt. Public Library Services for the Poor: Doing All We Can. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010. Read an excerpt (PDF) from the book--the table of contents, the preface and chapter one, and the index

Venturella, Karen M. Poor People and Library Services. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1998.