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Public Library Services for the Poor: Doing All We Can
Leslie Edmonds Holt & Glen E. Holt
Item Number: 978-0-8389-1050-4
Publisher: ALA Editions
Price: $49.00
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This title is also available for purchase as an e-book or as a print/e-book bundle.

168 pages
6" x 9"
ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-1050-4
Year Published: 2010
AP Categories: A, C

Read an excerpt from the book now!

Among public institutions, the library has great potential for helping the poor and disenfranchised. For many, the library is the only refuge for information, literacy, entertainment, language skills, employment help, free computer use and even safety and shelter. Experts Glen and Leslie Holt, with decades of service to inner city communities between them, challenge librarians to do more for poor people. While recognizing the financial crunch libraries are under, the authors offer concrete advice about programs and support for this unique group, showing you how to
  • Train staff to meet the unique needs of the poor, including youth
  • Cooperate with other agencies in order to form partnerships and collaborations that enrich library services to the poor and homeless
  • Find help, financial and other, for your library
This ground-breaking work demonstrates how five Key Action Areas adopted by the ALA Council (Diversity, Equity of Access, Education and Continuous Learning, Intellectual Freedom, and 21st Century Literacy) apply especially to this disadvantaged population, and motivates librarians to use creative solutions to meet their needs.
Table of Contents


Part I Think and Plan
1 A Library Commitment to the Poor
2 Ambivalences about Poverty
3 Doing Our People’s Work

Part II Act
4 Getting Started: Principles of Success
5 Getting Started: Service Continuum
6 What Keeps Poor People from Using Libraries?
7 Communicating with Poor Constituents
8 Finding Help for Your Poor: A Librarian’s Guide
9 General Library Programs That Help the Poor
10 General Services: Public Access Computers and Their Implications
11 Specific Library Services That Help the Poor

Part III Big Challenges
12 The Homeless: How Should Our Libraries Help Them?
13 Partnerships and Collaborations That Enrich Library Services to the Poor
14 Evaluating Library Services to the Poor
15 Poverty and Library Essentiality

About the Authors

Dr. Leslie Edmonds Holt is president and CEO of Holt Consulting and associate editor of Public Library Quarterly. She received her BA from Cornell College, her MLS from the University of Chicago, and her PhD in Education (Reading) from Loyola University. She has twenty-five years of experience working in public libraries, including a decade-long term as director of Youth Services and Community Relations at the St. Louis Public Library. She has taught at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Glen Holt is the editor of Public Library Quarterly. He wrote quarterly columns on library economics in The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finance for eleven years and columns in Library Leadership Network Commons for five. In addition, he is coauthor of three LIS books and author of more than a hundred articles on library topics. In 2003 he received PLA’s Charlie Robinson Award for innovation and risk taking in the profession, and he is one of only two dozen library professionals who helped articulate library best practices as a member of Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation’s International Network of Public Librarians.

"At a time when the news is full of stories of people resorting to their public libraries during the economic downturn and of libraries experiencing drastically declining budgets, this book could not be more useful or necessary, with its thoughtful theoretical and practical advice for providing public library services to the poor."
--Library Journal

"Almost all employees in public libraries interact with people in poverty on a daily basis, and in our current economy, the population of homeless and poor citizens continues to grow. Instead of simply tolerating this population, we have the chance to empower these individuals and form connections that will make the library an essential part of their lives. This book will provide inspiration as well as practical tools and suggestions for librarians or administrators who want to do all they can to provide services to the poor. This book would be a useful addition to any public library professional development collection."

"Some of us entered the profession with a desire to serve others who were less well off, yet in recent years surprisingly little has been published on the topic of public library services for the poor. Perhaps there has been a tendency for librarians to serve identifiable minorities and excluded groups, rather than addressing the broader, daunting issue of poverty? Holt and Holt, experienced innercity librarians, have written a short and timely introduction to the topic."
--The Australian Library Journal

"Critical reading for librarians who sincerely want to help the poor by providing essential library services rather than simply putting up with their foibles and personal idiosyncrasies to the detriment of other users. New times call for new ideas and the authors give readers the necessary tools to build strong relationships and do everything possible to serve the poor."
--Public Libraries

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