Public libraries in North America are finding themselves on the front line of responding to homelessness issues within their communities. To ensure staff are equipped to empathetically respond to patrons and to respond to their needs, several organizations have developed webinars and training guides.
In order to understand the homelessness issue, advocacy and outreach organizations provide detailed information about the issue of homelessness in urban centres. From a Canadian perspective visit the Homeless Hub site. The site also features a Homelessness Learning Hub Training Collections where you can browse training and collections of resources at your own pace. Materials are based on best practices and evidence-based research on homelessness. The Toronto Public Library provides useful suggestions on how public libraries can respond to the homelessness crisis. Review the Strengthening Communities: The Role of the Public Library as a Site of Connection article for great ideas on how libraries are currently responding to the barriers and challenges faced by homeless individuals.
Ryan Dowd provides public libraries with homelessness training via the Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness. For libraries who have no budget your library can benefit with one hour of training.
Training to help front-line staff better understand troubled individuals (those experiencing homelessness, trauma, mental illness, addiction, etc.) and how to best handle problem behaviors.
The Librarians’ Guide to Homelessness
Public Library Association (PLA)
The Public Library Association developed a free two-part learning webinar.
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 covers the 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.
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.
The webinar presenters also provide webinar slides and documents for you to download.
WebJunction provides access to webinars including a collection a collection of links, videos, social media groups, and articles on the topic of homelessness.
- Homelessness in Small and Rural Communities: Libraries Can Help!, 2/21/18
- Whole Person Librarianship: Fostering Empathy in Challenging Times, 3/28/17
- The Community Connector: Referring Social Services at the Library, 4/21/15 webinar
- Putting the Public Back in Public Libraries: Community-Led Libraries, 9/26/11 webinar on how to involve your communities in library planning so that your library provides services relevant to underserved communities.
- Library Services for Patrons Experiencing Homelessness
- What Do I Do Now? Handling Challenging Situations with Mentally Ill and Homeless Library Users, Part 1
- What Do I Do Now? Handling Challenging Situations with Mentally Ill and Homeless Library Users, Part 2
- Public Libraries and the Homeless: Legal Issues