Language is powerful, and one conscious thing we can all do right away is use people-first language. This helps us acknowledge the human being, rather than identifying people by their disease, disability, domicile status:
- homeless people vs. people who are experiencing homelessness
- wheelchair-bound child vs. child who uses a wheelchair
- autistic woman vs. woman with autism
The language is more cumbersome, but wordiness is a small price to pay to maintain a person's humanity.
On Beyond Gender: Gender identity and the blurring of gender lines
This year's ALA was set in San Francisco, one of the most gay-friendly cities, against the backdrop of the Pride parade, with the added bonus of the historic SCOTUS decision on marriage equality. The atmosphere felt as if it had moved beyond LGB, and on to T, I, and Q. Two of the bathrooms were designated as gender neutral. Many sessions on diverse books brought up the issues of transgender and intersex (people born with ambiguous gender). The themes of many of the diverse books explored what it means to be male or female, and how threatened many in the mainstream feel when someone does not fit neatly into those roles or identities.
When we say "diverse" we still mainly mean not white/heterosexual/middle class.
Many diverse authors presenting at this year's ALA represented a variety of racial backgrounds; additionally, "diverse" can mean can mean LGBTQ and differently-abled.
In writing workshops, many kids of color would create characters who were the stock white person
Diverse books--often challenged because they're seen as too gritty for the white middle class girls
Diverse comics-- there is still a need for racial diversity in comics. Many people are upset to realize that the Falcon (the first black superhero) was a pimp and drug dealer
Challenge for librarians is to obtain books that represent a variety of people
Challenge for publishers--particularly small presses with limited budgets--to find images of non-white people to include on book covers.
Mirror books help people see themselves reflected
Window books give a view into someone else's world
In a perfect world--we would not need workshops like this because people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, economic levels, physical and mental abilities would be represented in the books coming from mainstream publishers.
Communities in Need: Innovations in Service and Design for Connecting Users with Social Services
Nobody wants to live on the streets
Rising problem since 2008
Lack of affordable housing
Decrease in social services
Growing medical needs:
- Untreated mental illness
- Sleep deprivation
Much addiction results from self-medicating mental health issues
74% of people in jail are receiving mental health care
Rise in laws criminalizing homelessness & poverty
- increases poverty
- interferes w gaining employment
- doesn't solve the problem
Lack of public toilets
Lack of shelter space
"No Fault" evictions:
- buildings sold & upgraded
- rents rise
- families w children, people w disabilities, and seniors hardest hit/cannot afford rent
Coalition on Homelessness www.cohsf.org
Madison Public Library Redesign:
- Raised floor: allows for running electrical/data wherever they need it
- Computers: Pinwheel design; 3 to a station; about 5' wide; privacy; room to spread out; allows large items or strollers to be kept w patron; room for two people
- Bathrooms: "Airport style"; doorless; w/in sightlines of staff & public; sound absorption materials outside; single sink fixture/no counter to stack belongings decreased public bathing
- Study room=office for social workers: lockable credenza allowed social workers to store materials and laptops
- Meeting space for community policing
- Light: lots of natural light; task lighting on shelves
- Garbage bags: kept on hand for people to consolidate their belongings
- Hiring: focus on customer service ability over teachable skills
- Managed by one staff member
- Casework management seven days a week
- 2 case workers= $70,000 a year
- Much cheaper than policing
- Various organizations come to the library:
- Porchlight Social Services
- Teen Homelessness
- Mental Illness
- Veterans Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia:
Works with organization Project Home to employ formerly homeless people in three ways:
- Restroom attendants: Hand out flyers w/ resources
- Home Page Café: Café in the library built w corporate funds; pays no rent to the library; employs homeless people
- Kitchen manager: 4th floor commercial kitchen
Library pays Project Home, who actually manages the employees
Employees make $12/hr (Philly minimum wage)
- Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual Disability Services stationed a social worker at the library 40 hrs/wk.
- Library is a "field office"; salary paid by DBHS
- Over 200 clients
- Helps staff morale
- Has done training for staff
- Takes time to build relationships
Teach classes in healthy eating
Help from celebrity chefs
National program; 9-hour training
San Francisco Public Library:
Social worker onsite. She is not a case manager, she is a connector.
Police sergeant onsite 40 hours/week
Health and Safety Associates:
- Formerly homeless people working under the supervision of a licensed social worker in the library.
- Use their experience w homelessness to reach customers
- Beyond bathroom monitors: training HASAs as outreach workers
- Veteran HASAs train new members
- Brought a different face of homelessness to library staff
- Promotes compassion
Staff role for security and safety: Yes, this is your job. Here are the tools to do your job and do it safely
Training for staff
- To help understand & have compassion
- Conflict resolution
- Dealing w difficult patrons
Behaviors not Profiles
People not Labels
Project Homeless Connect started in San Francisco, has been repeated in Twin Cities, with less success in St. Paul due to lack of sponsorship.
Edmonton Public Library
Community Librarians: 70% of their time spent out in the community
$630,000 grant: 3 social workers for 3 years
6000 encounters in the first year
Weekly Coffee-Food-Conversation for outreach workers: no structure or agenda
Discretionary money to establish rapport:
- Buying ID's
Pima County AZ and Richland County SC have nurses on site.
Pima County & City of Tucson have a collaboration to end homelessness
2012: Library provided funding to Health dept to provide one FTE nurse serving 6 branches. This did not work well.
Late summer: Nurse Daniel hired for 2 branches + 8 hrs at the health dept; 15-20 Public Health Nurses at any one time assigned to libraries for outreach.
Nurse daily duties:
- Wears identifying stethoscope
- Nurse rounds
- Blood pressure checks
- Case management
- Health Care enrollment
- Crisis Intervention
- Referrals & advocacy
- Pima County Health Department
- University of AZ colleges of Nursing and Public Health & Social Work
- Community Food Bank
Partners would do educational programs (hand washing, immunizations, exercise, nutrition), then serve snack
Number of visits:
911 calls by staff decreased; medical 911 calls increased
Staff have learned how to approach people
Talked with faith-based community; pastor talked in his sermon about the problems surrounding homelessness
Cost: about the cost of a beginning librarian (they gave up a librarian to fund the nurse)
Richland County, South Carolina
Programs to support real community needs:
- Library employment program: many people had lost health insurance
- Here Comes Kindergarten: 10-week program on family literacy; many homes had no basics, such as crayons, paper, or bandages
- Transitions: empowering people to transition out of homelessness
Partner: Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)
- Nurse gets Library training, New Employee Orientation, Storytime training
- "The Nurse is IN" table in branch library
- Answers questions using library databases
1) DHEC regulations did not allow nurse to take vitals or maintain client records!
Answer: Get it in writing, and be specific:
- Nurse may take vitals
- Nurse may maintain client records onsite
- Nurse/Health station onsite at main library
- Private designated space for nurse to meet with clients
2) Pushback from "legacy" staff
Answer: Repeat the mantra "We’re meeting the needs of the community"
3) For staff who have embraced social workers/nurses: "Why isn't it here when I need it, where I need it?"
Answer: None provided, but funding is always part of the equation.
Slides from the ALA Preconference Communities in Need: Innovations in Service and Design for Connecting Users with Social Services are available here: