November 21, 2017

Linking the Needy to the Needed | Programs That Pop

It’s not unusual for public libraries to host fairs for patrons to find the things they want to know—most often revolving around authors and books. It is also not a rarity for libraries to conduct outreach to homeless and at-risk patrons. Yet Salt Lake City Public Library (­SLCPL) has taken the uncommon step of combining the two. On November 18, 2014, an estimated 400 homeless or at-risk individuals attended the first Project Uplift, a social services information and resource fair coordinated by SLCPL, Salt Lake City government, and Volunteers of America—Utah (VOA).

DPL, SFPL Develop Innovative Services for the Homeless

Libraries across the country provide services to the homeless, but some go beyond standard outreach, throwing their doors open and welcoming those community members in. Among them are the Denver and San Francisco Public Libraries, where unique services aim to bring additional dignity and humanity to library programming for people experiencing homelessness. Both libraries have hired full-time social workers in recent years to help address the homelessness crises in their communities, and that commitment shows through in their creative partnerships and programming.

Edmonton Public Library Adds Homeless Outreach to Five New Branches

One of the many reasons Alberta’s Edmonton Public Library (EPL) was chosen as Gale/LJ Library of the Year for 2014 is its commitment to community services. In particular, EPL’s outreach program to support the city’s homeless population is a necessary initiative in a rapidly growing urban center—Canada’s fifth-largest municipality—where temperatures rarely rise above freezing from November through March. Not only has the program survived the loss of its province-based funding, with the library system itself stepping in to cover costs, but this winter EPL’s outreach will expand to five additional branches on a pilot basis.