Book Review: The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone

Jessica Givens


Public libraries are an invaluable resource for people experiencing homelessness. However, librarians often struggle with how to address the unique needs of those patrons—what do we do when their needs clash with library policies or the comfort of other customers? Ryan Dowd, the executive director of a large homeless shelter in Chicago, draws on his years of experience to provide a set of tools that enable librarians to better serve people experiencing homelessness while improving compliance with library policies. His approach emphasizes empathy, treating all patrons with respect while recognizing the special challenges faced by homeless individuals. Dowd explains how demonstrating empathy enhances our ability to resolve or avoid conflict before resorting to punishment.

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