Reporter Looking For Homeless Library Stories

Ann The Hollywood Librarian writes:
Monica Hesse, the Washington Post reporter who filed this
terrific story
is working on another librarian piece. She emailed me
with this:

"Several of the people I spoke with at Hollywood Librarian's premiere
mentioned how many homeless individuals came into their libraries to use
the computers. I'm really interested in this concept--how homeless people
can use the free technology in libraries to gain a degree of normalcy in
their lives. I'm particularly interested in finding out if any of them use
the computers to play virtual reality games like Second Life, in which they
could set up a house, etc, or if they use networking sites like MySpace.

I'm collecting stories of homeless people using technology in libraries,
and if you have one I would love to hear from you--especially if you have a
user who has become a "regular" in your library. I can be reached at
hessem@washpost.com or at 202-334-4831. And please, forward this on
to every public librarian you know--the more stories I have, the more
justice I can do to this story.

Contact this fine reporter with your story. She's wonderful to talk to.

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Play time for the homeless!

What virtual reality is THIS reporter lost in?"I'm really interested in this concept--how homeless people can use the free technology in libraries to gain a degree of normalcy in their lives. I'm particularly interested in finding out if any of them use the computers to play virtual reality games like Second Life, in which they could set up a house, etc, or if they use networking sites like MySpace."Can homeless people use computers in libraries they without a library card usually required for internet access or email...?if the homeless are in a library that allows net or email access without a library card most likely the homeless person is:a. Trying not to look homelessb. Moving around so they won't get tossed out
      for being inside too longc. Looking for a place to sleep or a bathroom to
      wash up ind. Looking for discarded eatse. If on a PC looking for social services, a job,
      a place to stayf. If on a PC maybe sending email to someone who
      can help with all of the above or wire some $g. Writing a letter, writing a resume....h. Trying to stay off the street till the shelter or
      soup kitchen opens up.Homeless people playing games to "gain a degree of normalcy" in their lives???Games are a fantasy and always will be.This reporter is either so incredibly naive or so white middle class arrogant and SO far removed from reality, that she is contemptible.

Re:Play time for the homeless!

Anon--not sure if you've been in a public library lately. Many public libraries have a way for non-cardholders to use computers and sometimes even use other services. Sometimes fee, sometimes free. I've been working in in pub libs for about 12 years now. Homeless internet users don't use the internet much differently than anyone else. They update their MySpace pages. They IM. They watch hardcore rap or Numa Numa videos on YouTube, they play Solitaire, they try to look at porn, they look for online sweethearts. Sometimes they apply for jobs online. Sometimes they type incomprehensible screeds. Some of them just sit and read all day and no one knows they're homeless. But Second Life? What library has good enough computers to support SL? (It's all about Runescape at my PL.)

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