Effective public library outreach to homeless people

Peter Willett (Information School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Rebecca Broadley (Latymer Upper School, London, UK)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Publication date: 6 September 2011



The purpose of this paper is to identify good practice in conducting outreach for homeless people, and hence to provide recommendations for future library outreach projects.


The authors examine of four case studies taken from the library literature, and conduct six semi‐structured interviews with outreach and/or inclusion librarians from library authorities in South and West Yorkshire.


The recommendations include: developing partnerships with relevant organisations; removing proof‐of‐identity requirements for joining the library; disseminating the results obtained in projects; using book deposits and mobile library stops; training library staff to ensure that they are aware of relevant issues; building trust in the target audience; ensuring that outreach is tailored to the specific needs of different groups of homeless people; and using a range of methods to evaluate project effectiveness.


Identification of themes common to the published case studies and to the interviews provides a reasoned basis for the recommendations that are presented. These recommendations provide, for the first time in the UK, clear guidelines for future outreach projects for homeless people.



Willett, P. and Broadley, R. (2011), "Effective public library outreach to homeless people", Library Review, Vol. 60 No. 8, pp. 658-670. https://doi.org/10.1108/00242531111166692

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