Librarians interviews for this story, clockwise from bottom left: Graham Tedesco-Blair, adult services librarian, Newark (N.Y.) Public Library; Fobazi Ettarh, undergraduate success librarian, Rutgers University–Newark in New Jersey; Chera Kowalski, assistant to the chief of staff, Free Library of Philadelphia; Nicole A. Cooke, associate professor and MS/LIS program director, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Tom Rink, instructor, library services, Northeastern State University in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; Homa Naficy, chief adult learning officer, Hartford (Conn.) Public Library; Amanda Oliver, MFA student, University of California–Riverside.

Other Duties as Assigned

January 2, 2019

As told to Anne Ford American Libraries asked seven librarians—public, academic, and school; urban and rural—their thoughts about the many directions in which their profession finds itself pulled. “At the end of the day, somebody is dying.” Chera Kowalski Assistant to the Chief of Staff Free Library of Philadelphia Chera Kowalski has received national media … Continue reading Other Duties as Assigned


Letter from Public Library Directors and Social Workers

September 4, 2018

This letter was excerpted in the From Our Readers section of American Libraries’ September/October issue. Here the full letter appears, with a complete list of signees. These customers include those who are experiencing adverse life challenges such as homelessness, substance use issues, trauma, and mental health crises. We represent libraries that have hired and collaborated … Continue reading Letter from Public Library Directors and Social Workers


Z! Haukeness from the Shine Initiative—a nonprofit based in Madison, Wisconsin—keeps a prominent profile in a glass room in the middle of Madison Public Library, where he and a coworker spend 30 hours a week helping patrons find housing and jobs and apply for food stamps. Some people come just to talk through hardships, he says.

A Home to the Homeless

November 24, 2014

“First in, last to leave the library,” says Jane, describing herself and her homeless community. “It’s our routine.” Jane, who prefers not to give her last name, says she’s classified as chronically homeless. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development defines a chronically homeless person as an unaccompanied individual with a disabling condition who … Continue reading A Home to the Homeless