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Library services for homeless people, refugees and asylum seekers.
While anecdotal evidence indicates that many homeless people use public libraries we took a proactive approach to ensure that homeless people, particularly those living in hostels, hubs and hotels, are made welcome in our libraries.
I worked with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive to identify hubs and hostels and make contact with Case Workers/ Development managers to connect with these hard to reach people. I also contacted refugee and integration centres in the city to include them in the project. The idea was to relax membership rules and create linkages between the hubs and a particular local branch library, thereby providing a sort of ‘personal’ service to individuals who may not have been previously familiar with libraries or who may perceive them as institutions that may fail them. The singular aim of the project was to ensure that homeless people and asylum seekers would enjoy the same entitlement and quality library service that we deliver to everyone equally.
The project commenced in September 2018 and is ongoing and has some successes but it is not without difficulties. During the course of the presentation I would like to extrapolate my learning from the project and share my experience and of course learn from other services that may have addressed this issue.
10,000 Homeless 3,784 children Peter Mc very says more like 15,000 4 ,000 up from 2016 Dublin accounts for 68% of homeless people 21% of new families presenting as homeless last year were non EU Citizens Anecdotally we know that a lot of homeless people use libraries but this can’t be documented and many use them
The Dublin Region Homeless Executive is provided by Dublin City Council as the lead statutory local authority in the response to homelessness in Dublin and adopts a shared service approach across the 4 Dublin Authorities.
Dublin City Council has overall responsibility for family accommodation and an experienced service provider will have responsibility for onsite operation and day to day management
All families are referred via the Dublin Region Central Placement Service and where possible will have a local connection to the area, ensuring ease of access to schools and local services. All families will retain their homeless priority on the social housing list and will be allocated a house / apartment when it becomes available
+ Children born in Temporary accommodation and there for years. Hostels can be difficult to manage and reach as individuals may be isolated / have mental health issues. One hostel successfully linked to one library and residents have joined up independently
Management of hubs is sporadic and dependent on the homeless charities involved. Some have just a hotel manager catering for hygiene, meals etc. Many do not have cooking facilities. Danger of people becoming institutionalised.
An attempt to provide a sustainable framework that is not too resource dependent.
Contact person to assist new members, select block loan, alert hub to events etc. Specific targeted services:
Dolphins Barn Open Day Ballymun story time Bram Stoker kinder box Tablets for Clonard Road
Hotel with commercial rooms as well.
Hi Sheila, Apologies for the delay in getting back to you. The flier is absolutely gorgeous. The residents of Hatch Hall were touched and delighted. Thank you.
Your Local Library: A Space for Everyone. Sheila Kelly
Your Local Library: A Space for
Library services for homeless people,
refugees and asylum Seekers
Sheila Kelly, Divisional Librarian, Equality and Social Inclusion
Dublin City Public Libraries
Dublin City Council
• Hostels are the main form of emergency accommodation provided
for single homeless people. Hostels can be short-term or long-term
• Dormitories or single rooms and some include meals and other
services. Some may charge for accommodation on a nightly or
• Referrals on the day or further up to 6 months
• Other emergency accommodation- bed and breakfasts, hotels or
family hubs used for people for whom hostel accommodation is not
suitable, due to the size or composition of the household or to
particular medical or social needs
• Replacing commercial hotels for families
• Separate bed rooms, play space, cooking and laundry facilities
and communal recreation space
• Often for families with children who have lost their rented
accommodation or become registered as homeless
• Security of an ongoing placement, which they may not have in a
• Supports made available for families as they move on to other
housing options, when they become available
Library service: Aim and Focus
Our main focus is to offer individuals and families living in supported
temporary accommodation the opportunity to use our library services
in the same way that everyone else does.
Our aim is to make their homelessness invisible and offer a quality
service and welcoming space as we do to everyone.
We may offer specific services depending on service development
and the management of particular hubs/hostels /hotels.
Focus Ireland’s Family Homeless Action Team Leaders have been
briefed on library services available for people accessing emergency
Library Services for people in
• Ease of membership
• Block Loan
• Storytelling session and introduction to the library service
• Contact persons
• Library Tours and orientation for Development Managers
• Change of address reminder
• Specific targeted/individualised service
These books are borrowed from Ballymun Library. You can take
one to your room to read but please leave it back as soon as you
are finished so that everyone can enjoy them.
We will have the books for a few weeks and we will put up a notice
a few days before they are due back so all the books can be
returned and swapped for new ones.
If you want to join Ballymun library yourself, it’s easy and
everything is free!
The library is on Ballymun Road and you can phone 8421890 or
go to http://www.dublincity.ie/ballymun-library
• Development Managers not assigned
• Development Managers not engaged with Library services
• Very quick turnover in staff in hubs
• Various and diverse charities involved
• Serious difficulties with access
• Location and distance from Library
“The ache for home lives in all
of us, the safe place where we
can go as we are and not be