The library is the ultimate civic commons; a place where all are welcomed to gather. That said, if you spend long enough working in a public library, you are bound to hear complaints about the homeless. These are not new. Communities have been complaining about homeless in the library as long as there have been public libraries in this country.
To me, community does not always look exactly how we want it to look. Community can be rough and challenging but that’s because as humans, we are not all the same. And the public library, because it’s a place for all, is the one place (besides maybe public transportation) where people from all walks of life come together and figures out what community really is.
I love this quote from a 2005 Washington Post article about a branch of the DC Public Library, “It’s one of the last outposts where a cross section of people still come together. It’s where Sarah was reading in groups with kids from wealthy families and those who were just getting by. It’s where they gathered on holidays for parties, where they caught up with neighbors during the weekly story times. And it’s a place that remembers them.”
Shelf Life; Even a fading D.C. library still contains a multitude of unforgettable characters and surprising plot twists. And that’s before you get to the books: [FINAL Edition]
Wee, Eric L. The Washington Post; Washington, D.C. [Washington, D.C]31 July 2005: WMAG.15.