The Librarian's Guide to Homelessness: An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone

The Librarian's Guide to Homelessness: An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone

by Ryan Dowd


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Homelessness is a perennial topic of concern at libraries. In fact, staff at public libraries interact with almost as many homeless individuals as staff at shelters do. Empathy and understanding, along with specific actionable advice that's drawn from experience, makes all the difference in working with this group. In this book Dowd, executive director of a homeless shelter, spotlights best practices drawn from his own shelter's policies and training materials. Filled with to-the-point guidance that will help frontline public library staff and managers understand and serve this population better, this resource

  • includes facts about homelessness every librarian should know;
  • debunks widespread myths about these individuals, explaining how they see themselves, what issues they struggle with, and how libraries can shift towards supporting them;
  • shares de-escalation techniques like showing respect, ways to avoid making things personal, and using proper body language;
  • walks readers through dealing with common issues like a sleeping patron, questionable hygiene, offensive behavior, and asking a patron to leave; and
  • advises on how to provide backup to a colleague and when to call the police.

Filled with real life stories that illustrate the effectiveness of Dowd’s approach, this one-of-a-kind guide will empower library staff to treat homeless individuals with dignity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780838916261
Publisher: American Library Association
Publication date: 01/12/2018
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 648,865
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Who Am I? Who Are You? xi

Part I Homelessness and Empathy

Chapter 1 Top Ten Homeless Myths 3

Chapter 2 Homeless People Are (Not) Just Like You 17

Chapter 3 Empathy: The Psychological, Neurological, and Social Bases for It 43

Part II Empathy-Driven Enforcement

Chapter 4 Empathy vs. Punishment 65

Chapter 5 Step 1: Your Head Tools 79

Chapter 6 Step 2: Your Body Tools 95

Chapter 7 Step 3: Your Word Tools 113

Chapter 8 Advanced Tools 141

Part III Special Situations

Chapter 9 Everyday Predicaments 151

Chapter 10 Mental Illness 159

Chapter 11 Substance Abuse 171

Chapter 12 Hygiene 179

Chapter 13 Sleeping 189

Chapter 14 Possessions 195

Chapter 15 Children 201

Part IV Beyond Problem-Solving

Chapter 16 Advice for Managers and Leaders 211

Chapter 17 How Best to Help Homeless Patrons 227

Conclusion: The End of Homelessness 237

Appendix: Key Phrases 241

Index 245

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