This Cincinnati Library Is Lending Help to the Homeless /

Libraries are rarely just book repositories. Many offer community services like classes, meeting rooms, and research assistance. But one lending library in Cincinnati is going above and beyond the usual expectations, providing aid to the homeless population in their area during normal business hours.

WCPO Cincinnati’s Lucy May and Emily Maxwell profiled the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County this week, noting that the Main Street location has opened its doors for people in need of a bathroom or a place to be protected from inclement weather. It’s part of a policy to welcome those looking for shelter. Many are repeat visitors that staff have come to know by name.

It’s also not all the library does. A pilot program in March invited social services to conduct meetings in their atrium that covered topics like addiction, recovery, and mental health. Employees also assist with job applications, bus ticket printing, and other tasks that people without a permanent residence may find challenging. For recently released prison inmates, the library also aids in reentry, helping them with identification needs and job searches that highlight occupations open to felons.

David Siders, the library’s civic engagement coordinator, told WCPO that the services are an attempt to bolster the community and break away from some of the conventional thinking about the role of libraries. “Traditionally, libraries have been: ‘You want to learn more? Come check out a book,'" he said. "Now it’s more, ‘How can we help you? How can we help your quality of life?’ We’re not diminishing the value of books, but we’re enhancing our services.”

[h/t WCPO Cincinnati]