Monday, July 10, 2006

Disciminating against homeless patrons?

Yikes. Would any of our public librarian readers/writers like to respond?


Barbara said...

Well, I'm not a public librarian, but how sad the library didn't approach the shelters first. I can see it would be much harder to hang onto books without a settled living arrangement, but by working with a shelter you could do some interesting outreach (especially for the kids!!!)

Of course if you limited yourself to homeless who stay in shelters there would be a lot of people left out.

I worked as a page at a public library eons ago and one patron carried her books in a shopping bag. She was obviously homeless, but wow, did she read a lot. I imagine it was a big part of her life.

Alec said...

My contact in Valpo has this to say about the situation there:

"It figures that it would be negative publicity...on the more positive side, the homeless shelters of which they speak are spectacular. The entire community worked together to convert an old motel-like apartment complex into small apartments for homeless people in Porter County. Too bad that didn't get reported!"

Charlotte said...

I guess I have a really different reaction to this. It doesn't surprise me a bit and I think two books at a time is pretty reasonable. There are an awful lot of transient people in Alaska, for a zillion different reasons, including millionaires on boats. We require proof of residency to get a card (only residents pay taxes that keep our doors open) and the homeless shelter does not count as a residence because the postal service will not deliver mail to individuals there. Our bottom line is that we want proof you can get mail from us and other than that , we don't really care where you live. Of course, we are in a small town and our homeless shelter is, literally, right next door. Since the shelter is closed in the daytime, we get all the guys here reading all day. I don't think they are suffering for library materials. Our women's shelter is across town and that doesn't count as a residence either, but there are ways to get library materials there. For instance, all children in school in Ketchikan automatically get a card that is good at all the libraries in, public and school or a WISH staff person can check items out for the family. When your budget is limited and materials keep walking out of your library and not being returned, you have to start setting some limitations. That's the reality. Remembering that different public libraries place lots of limitations on who can check out books. It's not just a homeless person issue. We do, BYW, offer a deposit card for visitors and others who come and go from town. You pay $20 and can check out any 4 items at a time. When you return the card, you get $10 back. That's a pretty good deal considering what one book costs.

Emily said...

It seems we'll hear more about what the court thinks about this issue soon. American Libraries Online just published this article about a homeless woman and her suit againt the city of Worcester, MA.