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Date: Thursday, June 20, 2024
Time: 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Place: Online at (registration required)
Cost: Free

  • Kimberli Buckley, M.A, MLIS, Senior Community Library Manager for Contra Costa County Library, and Conference Chair
  • Rachel Fewell, Director of the Central Library at Denver Public Library
  • Lisa Harris, Library Manager, Social Justice Services, Alameda County Library
  • Avery Barnwell, Homeless Engagement Coordinator and Outreach Specialist, Dallas Public Library
  • Karla Alvarez, Deputy Chief of Staff and Program Manager, San José Public Library
  • Mychal Threets, Librarian, Advocate for Literacy

From a librarian’s perspective, when we think of patrons experiencing homelessness, we automatically know and understand that they are an especially vulnerable population. We also know that to work in libraries is to be on the forefront of homelessness. However, while we are working directly with vulnerable patrons, many of us may not know how to help someone who is unhoused or who is experiencing food or other insecurities. We may not understand why they don’t trust us, or why they are striking out angrily toward us. We may not know the mental challenges or trauma they are experiencing or the loneliness and isolation they are feeling. In turn, this can expose our own vulnerabilities.

What we do know is that there are many challenges for our vulnerable patrons. What can we do to help strengthen these patrons, knowing that this requires being emotionally vulnerable ourselves? How do we find the emotional strength and courage to be open and authentic? What can librarians provide? We can try to build strength with our homeless community members by recognizing and having compassion for their vulnerabilities as well as our own. From this we may foster empathy, and cultivate a greater sense of belonging within our libraries.

For this free online conference, we invite you to embrace vulnerability, share stories of helping vulnerable patrons, express how you have been vulnerable and needed support, and what it means to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone.