By Meredith Farkas | November 30, 2004
Michael McGrorty has an eloquent article about the homeless and public libraries in his blog today. This is a really tough subject in public libraries. As librarians, we really don’t want to restrict access to anyone, but at the same time, we also don’t want to discourage many people from coming to the library because it has become a haven for the homeless. When I worked at a public library, we had a few “regulars”, but they were very respectful and made themselves unobtrusive to others. Our patrons who weren’t homeless tended to be far more disruptive! But I definitely understand where people are coming from when they have homeless cleaning themselves in the libraries, sleeping everywhere, and disturbing others. That sort of stuff should be disallowed in the library’s general policies that apply to all people (though I can’t imagine that I’d ever have the heart to kick a homeless person out of the library). I think we as librarians need to look less for ways to kick homeless people out of the library and more for ways to get our local government to actually create programs for the homeless. My county doesn’t even have a homeless shelter (just shelters for people with children)! I know it is not a simple problem to fix. It’s just such a tragic situation, and I hope, one day, that society starts to have more compassion for the homeless.