Teens experiencing homelessness – week #9

The numbers are staggering.  According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “on a given night, the number of homeless children is over 194,300–accounting for one third of all homeless people.”  Additionally, the National Coalition for the Homeless found that “LGBTQ teens account for 20 percent to 40 percent of all homeless youth.”  There is also a much greater risk that these teens will drop out of school.  “Almost 75 percent perform below grade level in reading, and many don’t have computer or the Internet access for homework and can’t buy school supplies.”

In this article, Rebecca A. Hill discusses several examples of libraries across the country that provide programming and services for teens experiencing homelessness:

  • San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) partners with the Department of Health to hire social workers
  • The BiblioTech STEM program in Washington State brings science and tech classes to homeless teens
  • A Teen Drop-In Social Hour organized by the Seattle Public Library (SPL) encourages homeless teens and young adults to visit the library for activities and peer group interactions
  • Information resource fair at the Salt Lake City Library for homeless patrons
  •  Street View Podcast at the Dallas Public Library


While many librarians and library staff want to help, they are usually not properly trained.  According to Hill, ALA’s task force has had low funding and low participation making it difficult to maintain.  It is unfortunate that there isn’t more work being done on the national level.  However I agree that, “The key to creating effective library programs for homeless teens, Winkelstein says, is for librarians to have conversations with area social service providers and include them in the library community. Then librarians can create environments in which homeless teens feel comfortable and will seek out services–whether in a branch or a shelter.”


“A Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness” Ryan Dowd



Hill, R. A. (2016). Almost home. School Library Journal, 62(2), 26. Retrieved from http://queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/docview/1761084765?accountid=13379


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