Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Librarian's Guide to Homelessness

Clifford, Simon
Info266, Fall 2016

Dowd, R. (2013, May 20). A librarian’s guide to homelessness [video file]. Retrieved from 

In this video aimed at librarians, Ryan Dowd, the director of a homeless shelter discusses the characteristics and needs common to those homeless individuals who visit libraries, and explores some of the challenges to serving them. The first part of the video is focused on the lived experience of the homeless. The second part, starting about 23:00 minutes in, shifts to focus on effective ways for library staff to interact with homeless patrons. 

"A librarian's guide to homelessness" is part training, part advocacy. Dowd devotes a lot of time to conveying what it is like to be homeless and why a homeless person might behave in certain ways. In the latter part of the video, he gives a few concrete tips for avoiding escalation or deescalating tense situations. This video does not really cover how to handle major conflicts or other critical situations. It's a bit lengthy at 38:00 minutes, but I personally found it to be very insightful. 

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