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Title:Libraries and the homeless: caregivers or enforcers
Author(s):Silver, Judi
Subject(s):Libraries and the homeless
Homeless persons
Abstract:During the 1980s, varied social forces converged, resulting in a devastating downward spiral of the economic capabilities of the middle and lower income classes. The aftermath of urban renewal, de-industrialization, deinstitutionalization, and Reaganomics left a ruin of homeless people in its wake. With limited appropriate shelter available, many uprooted people were forced to seek protection from the elements in public buildings such as airports, bus stations, and libraries. As the homeless sector has grown, the dilemma of management has become an issue in public libraries where individuals bathe and wash clothing in the restrooms, sleep in the reading chairs, and occasionally exhibit offensive behavior toward patrons and staff. Finding creative resolutions to the plight of the homeless is a societal quandary amplified by a growing public backlash against the "problem that won't go away." As the number of homeless displaying aggressive characteristics increases, the body of sympathetic and compassionate citizens decreases. The phrase "compassion fatigue" characterizes America's ambivalence to the homeless and other world tragedies ("Libraries for All", 1991). How we treat people of suffering is a reflection of how we view the afflicted, either as victims or as socially irresponsible people. The concepts we, as individuals have, are collectively demonstrated in the policies enacted at the local, state, and federal levels. Are we care givers and keepers or agents of enforcement?
Issue Date:1996
Publisher:Graduate School of Library and Information Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Citation Info:Silver, Judi. "Libraries and the Homeless: Caregivers or Enforcers." Katharine Sharp Review, no. 2 (1996).
Series/Report:Katharine Sharp Review ; no. 002, Winter, 1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 is held by Judi Silver
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-20

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