Friday, August 19, 2016

Librarians' Guide to Homelessness

I signed up today for a free week long trial of this content and thought you all might find it useful as well.
Here is a tidbit on the issue of waking sleeping patrons:

  • Give the person a minute or two after you wake them up before expecting them to understand what is happening.  Homeless individuals are just like you: a little groggy when they first wake up.  It is worth taking an extra minute to talk to a person after they wake up to make sure they are going to stay awake (or leave, if that is what you asked him/her to do).

  • ​If at all possible, DO NOT wake people up by touching them.  Many homeless people have been awoken by someone robbing them violently.  When they are touched in their sleep, they immediately start swinging in self-defense (and you could get hit).

  • If you absolutely cannot wake someone up without touching them, stand immediately behind the person so if they wake up trying to defend themselves you won’t be hit.  Another way to do this is to reach across from the other side of the table and touch the person’s hand.  The worst place to wake someone up from is immediately beside them.  At a minimum, reach your hand out and do not lean in where you can get hit in the face.

  • Some people recommending making a noise nearby to wake someone up (e.g. bumping a table, “accidentally dropping a book,” etc.), but I don’t.  This will agitate some people and it doesn’t correct future behavior.  Similarly, I don’t recommend that you “accidentally” bump a person’s chair as you walk by.  Passive aggressiveness (which is how it is perceived) rarely works.​​

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