Libraries Work To Do A Better Job Helping Homeless

Library Computers Are Often First Point Of Contact For Jobs, Services

library shelves
Cofrin Library (CC-BY-NC-ND)

A group of Wisconsin librarians is hoping to find a better way to meet the needs of the homeless.

A quick Google search of the words “Wisconsin libraries and the homeless” will bring up dozens of articles about the problems that local libraries are facing serving their homeless patrons. Librarians from eight counties in Wisconsin will meet in Wisconsin Dells this week to address the issue.

The number of people seeking emergency shelter in the state has risen 15 percent during the past five years. Last year, more than 27,000 people received homeless assistance. Officials said that many of them made their first contact with a social service agency at a computer station in a public library.

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Shawn Brummer, the outreach consultant for the South Central Library Association, said that their efforts will help make them more effective.

“We are all about providing space for all community members to be together and it is our goal to model this type of civic engagement. We just need to learn methods to do that,” he said.

Brummer said this week’s Social Services Symposium is a first-of-its kind opportunity for librarians to find new ways to serve a population that needs both shelter and access to information about jobs and housing.