In a recent photo essay published in National Geographic Magazine, photographer Fritz Hoffmann highlights how some homeless people in California benefit from public libraries, including using them as quite places to read and learn, using their restroom facilities and using them as a place to get off the streets – either momentarily, or for good.
"Being homeless often means living off the mainstream grid, unplugged from the Internet, email, and streaming media. Public libraries provide the homeless with a way to connect, and many homeless say that browsing the stacks and reading a book there eases a weary street-level perspective of life," Hoffmann states in his photo essay.
I cannot help but smile when I look at these moving photos. They remind me of a shared sense of humanity, and the ability public libraries have to unite, lift up and love the people they serve. These photos show just how important public libraries are, and what a difference they can make in a person's life. You can view all the photos here.
As job resource and learning centers, public libraries provide the homeless with more than just a warm and dry place to go during the day. They provide them with a place to grow and thrive. Some libraries see such a high amount of homeless patrons that they are taking even further steps to serve their needs by bringing in specialized staff to work with the homeless.
Homelessness is a major issue in this country, and many others around the world. And while some library patrons may be upset at libraries for their policies regarding serving the homeless, it is the duty of public libraries to serve and support their communities and the all of people in them.
To learn more about how libraries across the country are serving the homeless, click here.