The Problem Is Not the Homeless

The number of people who are homeless is on the rise, as is library service for them. Still, many librarians and library administrators believe they cannot meet the needs of this group since homelessness is such a complex issue. It often reflects the problems of individuals themselves—hence the idea that the homeless themselves are the “problem”—but it is also attributable to a lack of affordable housing and changes in work and the economy. Nevertheless, there are innovative librarians and libraries working to serve homeless and low-income users. Their efforts fulfill the spirit of the American Library Association Policy 61, inspired by lifelong activist Sanford Berman (see “The Problem Is Poverty,” Blatant Berry). The policy spurs librarians to recognize the “urgent need to respond to the increasing number of poor children, adults, and families in America.”

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