January 27, 2022

University of Tennessee Grad Student Studies How Libraries Can Better Serve the Homeless

From the University of Tennessee:

Olivia Forehand of Nashville is a graduate student in the School of Information Sciences in the College of Communication and Information. Her research, conducted last spring for the course Diversity Leadership in Information Organizations, taught by Professor Bharat Mehra, will be published this month in the International Journal of Information, Diversity, and Inclusion.

“I have many privileges in my life, and it is my aim to use my privileges to help others,” Forehand said, adding that she sees librarianship as a way “to work towards correcting some of the main injustices in the world.


“Even small changes can improve the lives of patrons,” she noted in her final report. “In July 2017, the Nashville Public Library system stopped charging fines for overdue items in order to ensure the accessibility of their collections for all patrons. By continuing to implement policies such as this one, the library system will take important steps towards promoting equal access to library services for all patrons.”

Forehand created a bibliography of materials on how libraries can help vulnerable populations and compiled best practices by looking at the services provided by three other libraries—the New York Public Library system, the Los Angeles Public Library, and the UT Libraries.

Among her suggestions for additional measures libraries can take to serve the homeless and poor:

  • Create more programming to help patrons who are poor or homeless.“Classes on job searching and resume writing would be of particular benefit,” she noted.
  • Add more books that could be helpful to this population.
  • Provide training to increase staff members’ cultural competency.
  • Partner with a social worker who can provide on-site assistance to patrons.

Read the Complete Article

Direct to International Journal of Information, Diversity, and Inclusion.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.