Sunday, August 14, 2016

Libraries contribution to a sustainable future supporting people experiencing homelessness #WLIC2016

Next at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Columbus, USA, still in a session on libraries taking action for the UN 2030 development agenda
Sanja Bunić (Zagreb City Libraries, Croatia) talked about On the front line: Libraries contribution to a sustainable future supporting people experiencing homelessness (the full paper is at
Bunić identified homelessness (citing Leilani Farha) as a result of inequality and poverty on a global scale. She noted the various stereotypes of the homeless persons, and the facts that few people chose to be homeless and when they become homeless their rights may be violated. There are social groups at risk of homelessness e.g. people with disabilities, families on the move and indigenous people. This issue is directly related to the Sustainable Development goal 1 "end poverty in all its forms everywhere".
They are drawing up guidelines for libraries in supporting the homeless. The speaker gave 3 examples of library work. The first is at Denver Public Library, USA. They have a Homeless Service Action Committee, which now has support from the Mayor and their Director, resulting in some funds. They now have a full time Community Resource Specialist, a social worker, who can explain the needs of homeless people to libraries etc. and initiates diverse services (e.g. meditation, connection to medical care). This example shows the importance of collaboration within the community.
The second example is Waverley Library in Australia. This example shows that even when they don't have support from the community, librarians can still take action. They have an online toolkit, donate books to a special library, train in mental health awareness, participate in relevant events etc.
The third example is a day centre supported by Riga Central Library, Latvia, and other Riga Council units. Ist floor is basic needs, 2nd floor relaxation and studies, 3rd floor library. 40% of users have managed to change their status, finding homes.

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