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Library Service to the Homeless

The following resources are provided in conjunction with the Metropolitan Library System program “Library Service to the Homeless,” taking place today in Burr Ridge, Illinois. Featured speakers include Mary Minow, Tracie Hall, and others.

Please feel free to print and distribute this resource list.

Economic, Legal, and Human Rights Issues

Center for Law and Social Policy
CLASP’s mission is to improve the economic security, educational and workforce prospects, and family stability of low-income parents, children, and youth and to secure equal justice for all.

A Dream Denied: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities
Produced by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, this annual report examines specific city measures from 2005 that targeted homeless persons, such as laws that make it illegal to sleep, eat, or sit in public spaces.

Facts About Street Rights
This is a sample civil rights card provided to homeless people by advocates in Washington, D.C.

National Health Care for the Homeless Council
The NHCHC strives to bring about reform of the health care system to best serve the needs of people who are homeless, to work in alliance with others whose broader purpose is to eliminate homelessness, and to provide support to Council members.

Poverty Law Library
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
This site offers over 500,000 case pleadings and other documents, analytical articles from Clearinghouse Review, the premier journal on poverty law and policy, over 1,000 research links, and much more.

A Roof to Start With
Cities are moving homeless people straight from the street into permanent housing—no questions asked. It’s controversial, but it’s showing results.

Shame of the City: A Special Report on the Homeless
San Francisco Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan and photographer Brant Ward spent four months in the streets, parks and alleys with the homeless and those who deal with them. This site features a variety of related articles and themes.

Top 20 Meanest Cities
This list is compiled by the NCH as part of its annual report.

Local Statistics

American FactFinder
Use this U.S. Census Bureau tool to find stats on poverty in your community. Plug in location information and click “Go.” You’ll be presented with a Fact Sheet containing data on families and individuals living below the federal poverty line.

Poverty Guidelines, Research, and Measurement
U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services
This site features facts and FAQs, links to poverty research centers, and tips for finding answers to your questions.

Small Area Income & Poverty Estimates (SAIPE)
The U.S. Census Bureau’s SAIPE program provides more current estimates of selected income and poverty statistics than the most recent decennial census. The site features searchable data on school districts, counties, and states.

A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities” (December 2005)
The U.S. Conference of Mayors / Sodexho Inc.
For the past 21 years, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has reported on the shortage of emergency services – food, shelter, medical care, income assistance and energy assistance – in the nation’s cities. This report brings national attention to the factors that impact hunger and homelessness in metropolitan centers in the United States.

Selected Readings for Librarians

Sanford Berman. “Classism in the Stacks: Libraries and Poor People.”
Counterpoise 9, no. 3 (Summer 2005).
This is a copy of Berman’s address at ALA Annual 2005 for the Sixth Annual Dr. Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture Series.

Sanford Berman. “A Long Struggle to Force Libraries to Serve the Poor.”
Street Spirit (January 2001).

Ariel W. Collins. Bibliography on Library Services to Poor People (2002).
This browsable online bib contains 110 articles organized into five different categories—a great resource!

Counterpoise 9, no. 4 (Winter 2005).
Forthcoming poverty-themed issue.

John Gehner. “Poverty, Poor People, and Our Priorities.” Reference and User Services Quarterly 45, no. 2 (Winter 2005).

Julie Hersberger. “The Homeless and Information Needs and Services.”
Reference and User Services Quarterly 44, no. 3 (Spring 2005), 199-202.

“Perspectives: Library Services in Low-Income Urban Communities.”
Hampton (Skip) Auld, ed. Public Libraries (Nov/Dec 2005).
This report compiles case studies and firsthand experiences from eight different urban libraries.

Kathleen de la Pena McCook. “Ending the Isolation of Poor People.”
American Libraries 31 (May 2000): 45.
This special issue contains several essays on service to poor people.

Kathleen de la Pena McCook. “Poverty, Democracy and Public Libraries.” In Libraries & Democracy: The Cornerstones of Liberty. Nancy Kranich, ed. (Chicago: American Library Association Editions, 2001), 28-46.

Kathleen de la Pena McCook. LIS 5937 / Librarians and Human Rights: A Seminar.
School of Library and Information Science, University of South Florida.

Poor People and Library Services. Karen M. Venturella, ed. (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1998).
This book addresses the issues of ensuring access to information regardless of ability to pay and the practical means for meeting the needs of low income populations.

Social Exclusion and Libraries

While U.S. public libraries remain fixated on the issue of “odor,” libraries in England and elsewhere are creating new and novel programs to address “social exclusion.” This work is supported by government policy, public funding, and more than a decade of research.

Libraries and Community Cohesion
Authored by John Vincent for SEMLAC, this report “examines the social and national context, raises challenges, and offers ways for the library sector to move forward” on social exclusion.

The Network
This organization is a network of public libraries, museums, archives, other organizations, and individuals committed to tackling social exclusion.

New Directions in Social Policy: Communities and Inclusion Policy for Museums, Libraries, and Archives” (Word doc)
Published under the auspices of The Museums, Libraries, and Archives Council, this paper “explores the contribution museums, libraries and archives can make to neighbourhood renewal, community agendas, and social inclusion.”

Social Exclusion: The European Approach to Social Disadvantage” (PDF)
A useful primer, published by U.S. sociologists Hilary Silver and S.M. Miller in 2003.

Social Exclusion Unit
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
This government agency was established in 1997 to “create prosperous, inclusive and sustainable communities for the 21st century.”

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