Sunday, November 06, 2005

One thing public libraries have to deal with is homeless people (wow, I don't like how that was phrased). I found this blog post talking about the library as shelter.

There was an interesting quote in the blog:
Fear in all its forms stands out. It seems to take the shape of a giant circle of mutuality: the shelter staff and other providers are afraid of the homeless and the homeless are afraid of the staff; the citizen on the street, the merchant the householder, and whole communities fear the homeless, and the homeless fear the non-homeless citizens. And to complete the circle, the homeless are afraid of the homeless. Thus, everyone is afraid of the homeless, including the homeless themselves, and what is so terrible and intractable about this situation is that everyone is right to be afraid.

Right to be afraid?!? Why!? Why is it right to be afraid of the homeless? In any interaction with a homeless person are you likely to be mugged? I don't know. I'm not sure what the fear is. Although, I've had it myself wandering through downtown Seattle on my own. What am I afraid of?

I then read an excellent post on a friend's blog. Actually, the part I enjoyed was in the comment. Here is the whole exchange.

But how does this translate to libraries? Sure there can be a Christian (or 'good person') response to homeless or poor people in the library. But can you expect that from librarians or other patrons in the library? I wish. The comment to the first blog entry is quite interesting.

I have no answers. I don't know if I'll be working in public libraries...but I'm interested in this 'problem' of a population that needs information as well and are feared so much in our society (and apparently other parts of the world as well).

1 comment:

Jess said...

There was a segment on the news the other night on how the growing population of homeless is made up of women and children. A lot of them escaping an abusive situation. The streets are a safer place than what their home had become.

We have a program over here called Room at the Inn. It is a traveling shelter for women. Each week the women get bussed to a new church where they are fed and housed. The problem here is that nothing is being done to resolve the situation. They have no permanent address to be able to give when they apply for jobs, and they dont have transportation of their own and locations can be all over a region giving them no way to find a place close by. Yes they are safe and fed and warm, but their lives have no hope. They would rather be on the streets and have a routine, a permanence, a chance at making it, than the pity party most places hand out. Things are done with the righ motives but the wrong results.

And what about those people who have for personal reasons given up on conventional society. We as a culture say that to be a whole person you have to strive to own your own home, hold down an 8 to 5 job and bring home the bacon. Pay bills, stress about retirement, accumilate enough stuff to leave in a will. I met a guy the other day who was just out seeing the world. He had a pack on his back and was hitching to where ever anyone was willing to take him. He was happy. How many people in convtional society are happy. How many are happy with nothing, with no plan, no possesions, no one telling you what to do and how. There are a lot of displaced people in this area, and they seem like a true community. They are also the most interesting people to talk to for a good tall tale. They give the best directions and will add a spot of color to a bad day.

Who says that the way we are living our lives is the right way. I am counting on these conventionally living unhappy people to pay my bills, i doubt that any reformed homless people will find the need to talk to me about their problems. Most of them already seem to know the answers. But that is just here, it could be different elsewhere.