Public Library as Refuge

Places like the public library where Jennifer, Kaitlin, , and Cole found refuge are crucial to the day-to-day survival strategies of the $2-a-day poor. They offer a warm place to sit, a clean and safe bathroom, and a way to get online to complete a job application. They provide free educational programs for kids. Perhaps most important, they can help struggling families feel they are part of society instead of cast aside by it. Sometimes these institutions serve those in need begrudgingly — a library might prefer that it not be a rest stop and warming station for the city’s homeless people. But other times they attend to destitute patrons with tremendous love and warmth. Kaitlin’s friend the librarian gave her more than a job; she gave her a way to contribute, a place to belong.

— Kathryn J. Edin & H. Luke Shaefer, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, p. 101

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