A Bronx librarian’s kind decision to volunteer his time to read to local homeless kids has become a viable model to show cities and other localities how to help increase literacy among poor children.
Colbert Nembhard, who manages the New York Public Library’s Morrisania Branch, has spent the past 8 years visiting children at the Crotona Inn homeless shelter every Wednesday, where he reads stories and sings to kids, The New York Times reported.
Operating out of a day care room at the shelter, Nembhard brings parents and children in, and works to deliver an educational experience for those suffering due to their economic situation; he’s worked hard to make books important fixtures in their lives.
NYPL librarian Colbert Nembhard brings homeless children a love of books and reading: https://t.co/YBvNVRuPr3
— NY Public Library (@nypl) November 25, 2016
Working as a library branch manager over the years, Nembhard said he saw how libraries often serve the homeless, allowing the poor to put their resumes together, search for housing and explore other services. That said, not every homeless person felt comfortable going inside, so he decided to initiate the reading program to help bring the library to them.
And what started as a good deed has become a model for other shelters in the city looking to consider integrating books and learning into the shelter system, the Times reported.
Nembhard doesn’t simply show up on Wednesday mornings, either. He puts his all into the experience, learning the names of the parents and children he interacts with at the shelter.
“You build relationships with them so that when you see them they feel comfortable,” he told the Times.
Read more about the librarian’s story here.
It’s apparently not all that rare for libraries to support the poor. American Libraries Magazine published a story in 2014 that explained why many homeless people routinely use these locations as places of refuge after spending nights inside shelters or on the streets.
While this certainly adds a complex layer to the process of managing libraries, the American Library Association encourages engagement with the poor and homeless. Here’s the organization’s policy on engaging the poor:
The organization also lists a variety of ways it encourages libraries to reach these goals. You can check that out here.
(H/T: New York Times)
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