Librarians: Social Workers & Babysitters
An interesting article ran at AlterNet today entitled, America Gone Wrong: A Slashed Safety Net Turns Libraries into Homeless Shelters. Here’s the blockquote:
A dirty little secret about America is that public libraries have become de facto daytime shelters for the nation’s street people while librarians are increasingly our unofficial social workers for the homeless and mentally disturbed.
Now all of my loyal readers already know these things. For every person mentioned in this article my Library has its own equivalent. From Special Ed, to Porn Man, to Virus Guy, to the odious odorous woman in the wheelchair who used to come in doing legal research… Until she was committed. One of my coworkers says that the public library is the crack in the bottom of civilization that everything eventually falls into.
Sadly, just as the article states, librarians are very much like social workers without any of the requisite training or funding. Often times, we really do feel like we should be providing patrons with the call numbers for the items they seek, along with a diagnosis, and a prescription for their sordid afflictions.
Now, to this mix of insanity, add parents who drop their children off at the library because they think it’s a “safe” place. A place where their children can learn, or play, or whatever as long as they don’t have to deal with them, and you have a bad situation that just got much much worse… A situation librarians deal with on a daily basis.