A Look at the Dallas Public Library Helping Homeless People (Support and Digital Inclusion)

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(upbeat music) – Hi everybody, it’s morning in Dallas. My bright idea was to walk and talk and do this vlog and I’m sweating and it’s hot and yucky. So, not sure if it was a bright idea. Anyways, really excited. The Dallas Library invited me, one of the local homeless community here, the local coalition. And the library partnered and
they have me speaking at noon, but what I’m running
to, which is so awesome, they have a coffee and
conversation scheduled with local homeless people
that access the library and they offer services there. So we’re going to meet a wonderful bunch of homeless people this morning. We’re going to learn about
how the Dallas Library integrates case management
in their other services. So it’s going to be a wonderful day. Follow along! (drumming) Heather. – Hey. – We’re at the Dallas library. Behind us or over to the side
people are getting coffee. So tell us what’s going on this morning. – So, it’s a typical
morning in the library. We have lots of our homeless neighbors who line up right before we open. And this morning we have an opportunity to serve them coffee. So we’re just welcoming people in and giving them a good, hot cup of coffee. – So what you were tell
that a huge percentage of people come in and
run for the computers. – Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we think of,
when we think of people who are experiencing homelessness, we think oh, they need
shelter, they need food. And yes of course they need those things, but they also need connection
to their loved ones, to some normalcy. And access to the internet
is a big part of that. – Yeah, lady watching Lady
Gaga videos, offers an escape. – Exactly, exactly. – You know. And from the day-to-day. So tell me what kind of
service you have going on here. – So we provide, we have
a special service desk. It’s called our HELP desk. It stands for Homeless Engagement
and Leadership Program. And we do what librarians do. We give referrals, we have relationships with a lot of the service
organizations in the area. So if someone’s needing
housing or food or clothes, we know who to send them to. But we also have special
programs, like art programs. We have music classes. People can come in and practice
keyboard anytime we’re open. We have art walks, we
have crafting, poetry, all of those kinds of things. – How many people do you see in a week? – Definitely, I mean in the
building I would say hundreds. In our programs, certainly,
probably a couple hundred. – Why is it important for
libraries to provide services to people experiencing homelessness. – Well, you know, people
experiencing homelessness use the library for the same reason that anyone else uses the library. It’s a comfortable space to be. They’re trying to find information. – Here to get out of the heat. – Yeah, it’s safe, it’s
comfortable, it’s inviting. Several years ago we realized we could either look at this as a
problem or an opportunity and I’m glad to say we chose to look at it as an opportunity to really be
a true service organization. – Cool. – Cool. (light music) – Hi. – Hi. – Tell me who you are. – I’m Jo Giudice, the director
of the Dallas Public Library. – This is the woman who is
in charge of the library and is very instrumental
in changing operations to take better care of
our homeless friends. – Yes, absolutely. We’ve made some, I think some
steps to make them more human, to be recognized as the
human beings that they are and the respect that they deserve. – So, what was happening before? – So basically, like we all sort of do when we’re out in public, you know don’t look at them, they
won’t talk to you, right. – And that was happening in the library. – That was happening, most
certainly here in the library. And we just started with
standing at the door welcoming them on the way
in, learning their names, and getting their stories. They’re human beings. – Yeah. And what is the results of doing that? What is the change that you’ve seen? – Relationships, trust,
changes in behavior. And we are now working
on a tentative respect. We respect you and you respect us. – This morning you had
coffee and conversation, which I thought was brilliant because you have a separate area and then you also offer GED classes and art classes and music, but the separate area allows for kind of, just for them to take
ownership I guess you’d say. – It is, and it is a
beautiful, colorful space. And how can you not be happy to be there. And it just really gives us an opportunity to talk to each other,
get to know each other, and ask them what they want
in services from the library. Because we are there to serve them. – And she’s looking at her clock. – I got a phone call (laughs). – And I’ve got to go speak. So thank you for having me. – Yeah, I’m so glad to have you here. Thanks for being here. – It’s going to be an awesome afternoon. – Okay. – You know, share some
ideas about homelessness. And then, I’m going to go into a bit about digital inclusion, which is really, I think,
fits this library very well. And a conversation that
I think is important because digital inclusion often
is now included in poverty, but it’s not necessarily included with the homeless population. And if there was one thing
that I could leave you with is that whatever resources you have, it’s far more than what I had at the time. And, pretty amazing. So I started traveling
all around the country interviewing homeless people. Can you pay for somebody
that’s homeless monthly bill? You’d probably say no, but if I asked you can you help me make a peanut
butter and jelly sandwich for them, you’d probably give me 20 bucks. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich,
yeah they’re hungry, okay. Yeah, but it’s not going to help them get out of homelessness. Charity has never solved
any social crisis. My point is really that
we need to take action and we need to do something. And it’s up to you, everybody in this room and everybody that you know that you’re going to go talk about is change the perceptions on homelessness and mobile technology. Just finished speaking at the library. It was awesome. Great attendance. They say most people that
they’ve had in attendance since they started having
these conversations. Really encouraged by the
questions people were asking. I talked about homelessness, but I also talked about digital inclusion, which I felt was important to this space. And it’s an important conversation because there’s something about
people experiencing poverty and especially people
experiencing homelessness that we feel, when I say
we, the general public. The general public believes that they shouldn’t have the
very tools we take for granted and that could help better their lives. I’m talking about a smart phone. How do you connect to others
or how do you find a job or how do you find where you’re going or whatever today if you
can’t connect to the internet? It’s a vital part of everybody’s life, and that includes people that are (sighs) unfortunately without a home. Thank you everybody for joining me today. This is going to be probably
one of the shorter vlogs. I’m still learning how to do this, trying to establish a format. Please, if you like this video, please hit like. If you have some feedback,
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trying to work on blogging. Some of the issues is that in some situations I don’t
have permission to videotape. And I will never videotape
without somebody’s permission. I just won’t. So that’s a challenge
that I got to work around and hopefully I’ll be
able to develop a format and a system to be able to do
some effective storytelling behind the scenes, if you will, and bring those stories to you. So thank you to everybody for watching. And please subscribe, like, comment, and support us on Patreon. (light music)

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