From KERA News:
A big city library has turned around the way it deals with some of its most marginalized visitors. The Dallas Public Library has committed to not just tolerating—but welcoming—every homeless person who walks through the door.
Dallas in the winter isn’t exactly Siberia, but some January days are bitter. Just ask 55-year-old David Jackson.
Nowhere To Go
“It’s cold, it’s dark and you got to lay your head down a spot you feel safe, you can’t just lay down anywhere,” he says.
Jackson usually sleeps under a bridge. He hasn’t had a place to live in a very long time.
“I’ve been homeless off and on a good 20 years of my life,” he says. “I’m an alcoholic, you know I’ve got issues, a lot of issues.”
His issues include both addiction and mental illness, and the downtown Dallas library is a haven on a raw January day.
“The library’s a good place for the homeless. It’s warm, you’ve got different floors to go to, you got your own space,” Jackson says.
A Warmer Welcome
And that sums up why so many homeless men and women gather at the library. It’s clean, it’s quiet, there’s plenty to do. And in Dallas, the library strives to be welcoming.
“We started out about 5 years ago really engaging them as they came into the building,” says Jo Giudice, the city’s Director of Libraries. “Simply smiling and making eye contact and getting to know them as human beings was our first step and it made a huge difference.”