Among public institutions, the library has great potential for helping the poor and disenfranchised. For many, the library is their only source for information, entertainment, language skills, employment help, free computer use, and even safety and shelter. Experts Leslie and Glen Holt, with decades of service to inner-city communities between them, challenge librarians to do more for poor people. While recognizing the financial crunch libraries are under, the authors offer concrete advice about programs and ...
Among public institutions, the library has great potential for helping the poor and disenfranchised. For many, the library is their only source for information, entertainment, language skills, employment help, free computer use, and even safety and shelter. Experts Leslie and Glen Holt, with decades of service to inner-city communities between them, challenge librarians to do more for poor people. While recognizing the financial crunch libraries are under, the authors offer concrete advice about programs and support for this group, showing you how to
*Train staff to meet the unique needs of the poor, including youth
*Cooperate with other agencies in order to form partnerships and collaborations that enrich library services to the poor and homeless
*Find help, financial and other, for your library This groundbreaking work demonstrates how five Key Action Areas adopted by the ALA Council (Diversity, Equity of Access, Education and Continuous Learning, Intellectual Freedom, and 2lst-Century Literacy) apply especially to this disadvantaged population, and motivates librarians to use creative solutions to meet their needs.
Holt and Holt's work is based on extensive research into services available to the poor in libraries around the country and on personal experience from a combined thirty years of facilitating programs and services for the poor at St. Louis Public Library. The authors explain that despite widespread ambivalence toward poverty in the United States, library employees must shed this attitude if they wish to provide high-quality services to all patrons. This book includes suggestions for better serving the poor through programs focusing on literacy, job search, or technology classes; outreach; partnerships; resource lists containing information about other organizations and agencies that can help poor patrons; staff training so staff are better prepared to communicate and work with poor patrons; and adaptation of policies and procedures so poor patrons can more fully utilize the library. Almost all employees in public libraries interact with people in poverty on a daily basis, and in our current economy, the population of homeless and poor citizens continues to grow. Instead of simply tolerating this population, we have the chance to empower these individuals and form connections that will make the library an essential part of their lives. This book will provide inspiration as well as practical tools and suggestions for librarians or administrators who want to do all they can to provide services to the poor. This book would be a useful addition to any public library professional development collection. Reviewer: Amy Wyckoff
At a time when the news is full of stories of people resorting to their public libraries during the economic downturn and of libraries experiencing drastically declining budgets, this book could not be more useful or necessary, with its thoughtful theoretical and practical advice for providing public library services to the poor. Leslie Edmonds Holt and Glen E. Holt, both editors of Public Library Quarterly, bring together their combined 30 years of experience in the St. Louis Public Library system with research of poor and otherwise economically disadvantaged users of the library to offer advice on how to plan, create, deliver, and evaluate library services to the poor, while also addressing the biggest challenges and obstacles that libraries might face. VERDICT This clear, sensitive, considered, and timely book, the first of its kind since Karen M. Venturella's Poor People and Library Services (1998), should be read by all concerned public library staff.—Jessica Moran, Metropolitan Transportation Commission-Assoc. of Bay Area Govt. Libs., Oakland