A bibliography on serving library patrons experiencing homelessness


There is a particular slant to this bibliography: the citations are mostly scholarly articles focusing on homelessness in the context of urban areas in the United States. This was by no means a thorough survey of the literature on serving library patrons experiencing homelessness: I put together this list while writing an overview paper on the topic, but it is not intended as a full literature review. A colleague on the Progressive Librarians Guild listserv recently asked for recommendations to literature on patrons experiencing homelessness, and after I shared my private citations, I realized that this bibliography would be better served where more people can read it. For the purposes of sharing as much information on this topic as possible, all links provided should go to open-access versions of the article listed. I used the fabulous Open Access Button to check for OA listings, and will update this bibliography if they update me further about any of the articles to which I requested access from the author.

After this semester, I might go back to my paper on this topic and rework it for a proper blog post. Until then, these actual scholarly works will have to do.

Library policy & education

External services in libraries

  • Shelton, J., & Winkelstein, J. Librarians and social workers: Working together for homeless LGBTQ youth. Young adult library services, 13(1), 20-24.
  • Willett, P., & Broadley, R. (2011). Effective public library outreach to homeless people. Library review, 60(8), 658-670. doi:10.1108/00242531111166692. Retrieved from http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/74400/1/WRRO_74400.pdf


Case precedents

Ethical considerations

Public librarian perspectives

  • Alexander, O. D. (2008). Public library services to underrepresented groups: Poor & unemployed, emphasizing Danville, Virginia. Public library quarterly, 27(2), 111-133. doi:10.1080/01616840802114853
  • Anderson, K. A., Simpson, C. D., & Fisher, L. G. (2012). The ability of public library staff to help homeless people in the United States: Exploring relationships, roles and potential. Journal of poverty and social justice, 20(2), 177-190. doi:10.1332/175982712X652078
  • Berman, S. (2005, June). Classism in the stacks: Libraries and poor people. Presented at the Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture at the American Library Association Annual Conference, Chicago: McFarland & Company, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aboutala/offices/olos/olosprograms/jeanecoleman/05berman
  • Bunic, S. (2013). Libraries and the homeless: Experiences, challenges and opportunities – socio-economic background of homelessness in Croatia. Library review, 62(1/2), 34-42. doi:10.1108/00242531311328131
  • Collins, L. N., Howard, F., & Miraflor, A. (2009, January/March). Addressing the needs of the homeless: A San Jose Library partnership approach. The reference librarian, 50(1), 109-116. doi:10.1080/02763870802546472. Retrieved from http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/lib_pub/47/
  • Ferrell, S. (Winter 2010). Who says there’s a problem: A new way to approach the issue of “problem patrons.” Reference & user services quarterly, 50(2), 141-151. Retrieved from https://journals.ala.org/index.php/rusq/article/view/3213/3366
  • Gieskes, L. (2009). Why librarians matter to poor people. Public library quarterly, 28(1), 49-57. doi:10.1080/01616840802675416
  • Giesler, M. A. (2017). A place to call home? A qualitative exploration of public librarians’ response to homelessness. Journal of access services, 14(4), 188-214. doi:10.1080/15367967.2017.1395704
  • Giudice, J. O. (2017). Dallas Public Library’s homeless engagement initiative: Putting out the welcome mat. Texas library journal, 93(1), 14-15. Retrieved from http://www.txla.org/sites/tla/files/TLJ/TLJ93-1.pdf
  • Kelleher, A. (2013). Not just a place to sleep: Homeless perspectives on libraries in central Michigan. Library review, 62(1/2), 19-33. doi:10.1108/00242531311328122. Retrieved from https://www2.hawaii.edu/~donnab/lis670/kelleher_homeless_perspectives_libraries_2013.pdf
  • Milone, N. (2011). Public libraries and the homeless. Public libraries, 50(6), 13-22.
  • Muggleton, T. H. (2013). Public libraries and difficulties with targeting the homeless. Library review, 62(1/2), 7-18. doi:10.1108/00242531311328113
  • Simmons, R. C. (1985). The homeless in the public library: Implications for access to libraries. RQ, 25(1), 110-120.
  • Williams, R. D. (2016). ‘We’re not allowed’: Public librarians’ perspectives on providing health information to library users experiencing homelessness. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science & Technology, 53(1). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1002/pra2.2016.14505301079.
  • Wong, Y. L. (2009). Homelessness in public libraries. Journal of access services, 6(3), 396-410. doi:10.1080/15367960902908599




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