5 Ways Libraries Provide Aid to the Homeless

Public libraries provide a much-needed refuge for people without homes.

Your neighborhood library is a safe haven for those going through tough times.

As a public resource, libraries provide many services to local communities, regardless of income level or job status. In fact, local libraries are on the front line of fighting homelessness and providing resources to low-income and houseless people everywhere. Here are five ways your local library helps the homeless population every day:


1. Protection from Inclement Weather

Libraries are free spaces that are completely open to the public, meaning they offer space to anyone and everyone. When the weather gets nasty, a library’s door is always open to provide shelter from the wind and rain. Whether it’s a snowstorm or a heat wave, all libraries are equipped with heat and air conditioning and places to sit during the least habitable of days.


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2. Spaces to Sit and Relax

If you’ve ever seen benches with bars in the middle of them or spaces with spikes or jagged edges in your city, that’s a sure sign of anti-homeless architecture. Many cities use hostile architecture as a “solution” to homelessness and prevent homeless people from sitting down anywhere. Since libraries are a public resource, they actively combat this issue by welcoming homeless people into the space and providing them with places to sit and rest

In addition, libraries are filled with books—for people without much, this free communal resource that provides thousands of books is vital to curbing boredom and depression.

3. Access to Tech and Wifi

Libraries offer more than just books—they also provide free wifi and computer access to anyone who needs it. For people without regular access to the internet, free wifi is a blessing, and computer access is especially important for students who do not own computers at home. The same goes for homeless people, too: A student may use the library computer to finish an assignment, and someone living on the street can use the same resource to search for semipermanent housing, speak to loved ones, or apply for jobs.


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4. Access to Free Public Bathrooms

Every space needs a bathroom, and libraries offer visitors access to their lavatories regardless of whether or not they check out a book. Not everyone can access a library card, after all. Free public bathrooms are rare these days, but libraries will always be free and open to anyone needing them. Some libraries even have showers in their bathrooms so people without access to clean water can bathe!

5. Space to Socialize

As communal spaces, libraries also provide people with places to meet, participate in community events, and socialize. Homeless people are more than welcome to spend time at their local library and use the space to meet for job interviews, gatherings with friends, or simply to participate in an educational course hosted by the library. 

Everyone is welcome at the library, regardless of age, background, or income level. As long as you follow the rules (no food or drink around the books) and respect others around you, libraries are welcoming spaces for everyone!



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