A visit to the library likely means checking out a book or movie. But the Denver Public Library says its central location has another job these days — it’s somewhat of a homeless shelter.
“That is a role that we have not asked to play, but are playing,” says Michelle Jeske, the city librarian for Denver.
Two years ago, the Denver library didn’t have a social worker on staff. Before [Elissa] Hardy [one of two social workers], she says that the Denver Library was doing the best it could. Now it’s becoming a lot more common position for libraries.
Mary Stansbury, the head of the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Denver, says a social worker role is a natural fit for a library setting.
“Public libraries have for decades have been essential organizations, not just for homeless people but also as a conduit for connecting the agencies in whatever community that library might be in, that serve the homeless,” Stansbury says.
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