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Public libraries and houseless patrons: a defense of libraries as social services providers

Faculty Advisor




public libraries, homelessness, social work

Abstract (summary)

On any given night in Canada, 25,000 to 35,000 Canadian citizens experience homelessness (Stroble et al, 2021), while in the United States, the estimate is over 500,000 people per night (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2021). A variety of community organizations seek to provide support to those experiencing homelessness, including public libraries. Historically, public libraries have provided a place of connection for those who are homeless, provide free technology resources and training, and safe spaces to escape from the elements (Velji, 2020). Furthermore, libraries unapologetically provide the same level of service to marginalized patrons as to those who are privileged. Consequently, public libraries must continue to support and expand services to those experiencing homelessness, despite potential customer opposition or resistance from within the library community itself. In doing so, libraries will honour their code of ethics and fulfill public service mandates to all members of their communities.

Publication Information

Bolton, L. (2023). Public libraries and houseless patrons: A defense of libraries as social services providers. MacEwan University Student EJournal, 7(1).


Item Type

Student Article



Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)