Provision by the cultural sector for homeless people
With poverty and homelessness on the rise in the UK, libraries, archives and museums perform several vital functions. They are open and available for people to use, often outside the ‘normal’ office hours; they provide free access to information which the homeless person may need to survive (such as the location of foodbanks and other resources, as Newcastle City Libraries does); they provide free access to books and other materials (often not asking for proof of address for restricted library membership for those without fixed addresses); they are places where homeless people can sit and read (and use other facilities) without constantly being ‘moved on’ as they would be in a coffee shop or shopping mall; and they provide online access, for example to job searches, benefits information, and, in some cases, to families and friends.
In response to an enquiry in October 2016, The Network has pulled together examples of work being undertaken by libraries and archives.
Also in October 2016, The Spectator published an article about the Quaker Homeless Action mobile library, "What booksmean to rough sleepers – and the library that helps them".
Provision outside the UK
- In Jan 2017, WebJunction featured Facebook posts from US libraries that connect with community members experiencing homelessness, as well as a case study of Henry County Library System, Georgia, where the library takes part in a summer lunch programme; in Jan 2016, they pulled together examples of work from across the US, "Serving Youth Experiencing Homelessness", which also includes links to resources from the American Library Association’s Young Adult Library Services Association, and other articles.
- The IFLA Library Services to People with Special Need Section is developing Guidelines for Library Service to People Experiencing Homelessness, and their session at the recent World Library and Information Congress was devoted to presentations on this project.