Opening Library Doors When Others Close

You’re helping patrons experiencing homelessness build community and hope
Opening Library Doors When Others Close
 

The library’s atrium becomes a place of rest and refuge

Most public spaces do not open until noon on Sundays, leaving those exiting shelters with nowhere to go. Born out of this need, increasingly pressing as the weather grows colder, the idea of opening the library atrium early was brought to the library by its Advisory Board on Homelessness.

Ordinarily a bustling thoroughfare, Sunday mornings in the library’s atrium are quiet: the high ceiling stretches four floors above, while below, library patrons rest their eyes, play chess, read the paper, catch up, and nurse hot cups of coffee. On Sundays, the atrium becomes a place of rest and refuge where new connections are built and everyone is welcomed without judgement.

“Everybody likes a good cup of coffee in the morning.”

This program is an embodiment of the library’s mission to serve everyone. 

All Are Welcome Here
"All are
welcome
here..."
"All are
welcome
here..."

You can come and bring your whole self. We don’t care who you are or what you are. 

"No
matter
what..."
"No
matter
what..."

You don’t have to fit in a certain box for this space. It’s just a space you can come to no matter what.

These Sunday gatherings present more than just a warm place to rest or the chance to see a new movie; they create hope for a second start, a second chance. 

Please don't close this

Michael, a library patron formerly from Michigan, has lived in Minnesota now for eight years. From what he’s seen, this kind of programming—the open atrium, the free movie screenings, gaming groups, craft club—is nonexistent in other places. Michael recently secured a job as a maintenance mechanic at a local hospital and wants other patrons who come to open Sundays to keep trying. “There is a lot out there for us,” he says, “and places for us, places like this.”

Since the inception of Sunday morning open hours in April 2018, attendance has grown from 50 to nearly 300 people each week.

Quickly outpacing the library’s own capacity, this rapid growth presented an opportunity for the library to hire patrons experiencing homelessness to help alongside staff each week. This dramatic increase in attendance speaks to the larger housing crisis and to the library’s determination to best serve its community, to step up when needs arise, and to open its doors when others close. 

But the library would not have been able to bring this vital programming to life without the help of our Friends members. Thanks to you, Friends of HCL is contributing nearly $30,000 in 2019 to open the library’s doors on Sunday mornings and funding other programming throughout the week, giving patrons like Michael a place for community, stability, and hope. This generosity has had a profound and tangible impact on those who need support the most, bringing us one step closer to a library—and to a world—where everyone belongs.

Help us make life-changing programs for patrons experiencing homelessness possible at our library!