Library program aims to help homeless connect with services

Posted at 1:24 PM, Mar 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-21 01:31:07-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The City Library has developed a plan to better help Utah's homeless.

The plan consists of hiring three on-site social workers to help the homeless better understand resources available to them.  There will also be a vehicle that can be used to transport individuals to places where they can get more information.  It is modeled after a successful program already in place at the San Francisco Public Library.

The library administration said they are glad the library is a place where people hang out, but they also want to be a place where people feel comfortable.  They are trying to better their relationship with people who depend on the building as a place to stay.

A great police presence has helped reduce the number of incidents, but the non-profit group Friends of the City Library wanted to do more.

"We felt like it we needed to go deeper than that," said Judy Hinckley, with Friends of the City Library.  "A lot of these people just needed some assistance, places to go during the day, help in finding not only shelter, but food."

The program will also provide training to employees and volunteers, so they are better able to diffuse situations that may arise.  The goal, according to library administrators, is to make the library as comfortable as possible for patrons and those just hanging out.

"We're more interested in making sure that our services, our buildings, and our resources are available for everyone to enjoy," said Julianne Hancock, spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City Library.  "So we are obviously not forcing anyone to take any services they are not interested in.  This is just another opportunity for us to help people who may not otherwise have opportunities to find services."

The plan is going into effect over the next couple of weeks and the social workers are from organizations already working in partnership with the library.