“I’ve always felt unequal because I’m homeless. People have always looked through me or avoided me. I’ve felt shunned by the human race just because I don’t have a job. In the last year I feel like I’ve become a member of the library community. People know my name and talk with me, not to me. I count.”
Like many urban libraries, hundreds of members of the homeless community visit the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in downtown Dallas each day to access internet computers, reading material and as a respite from the streets. Recognizing its natural position to do more to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness and to support the organizations working tirelessly to do the same, the Dallas Public Library launched the Homeless Engagement Initiative in 2013 with support from the Friends of Dallas Public Library, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Through this initiative, the library has successfully engaged more than 4,000 members of the homeless community in library programs, mentorship and personalized assistance services.
This program is made possible in part through a Special Projects grant by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the Institute of Museum and Library Services and through the support of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library.