D.C. adds a social worker to library system to work with homeless patrons. (Washington Post, 8/27/2014)
Engaging the disenfranchised
“I really was brought on to figure out how the library can engage more disenfranchised populations in the city,” she said. “And make connections with other organizations to help provide programming.”
Badalamenti knows the situation at MLK best, because her office is there, but she noted that there are homeless “hot spots” throughout the system, as there are in most cities, and in many suburban library systems as well. One of her tasks is introducing the issue to the approximately 100 new staffers hired last year when the library system expanded its hours.
“Those people haven’t necessarily worked in an urban environment before,” she said. “And so [we are] helping them understand what it means to be homeless, what people experience when they’re homeless. Just a sort of sensitivity training, but hopefully we’ll be doing some other kinds of training, even around de-escalation. Identifying folks who might be in a crisis, so the library can respond and be helpful.