On the Public Library: How it can strengthen communities and serve those in need
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The economic downturn in this country over the past several years has not only affected private businesses, but the nonprofit sector as well. America's nonprofits have experienced increased demand for services and a simultaneous decrease in private giving. At the same time, public libraries have begun to see an influx of marginalized patrons, such as the homeless and mentally ill. The public library has always been a safe haven, where anyone can come to learn, socialize, and build community. This has especially been true for traditionally marginalized communities. In the current economic recession, nonprofit organizations have seen increased demand for services, as well as decreased resources. With the lack of resources from nonprofits, the library is often seen as a place of refuge. This research explores the relationships between library staff and these communities. Research questions include how library staff feel about these marginalized community members' presence in the library, what staff feel is the role of the library serving the larger Eugene community and in what ways the library may be changing in the face of new and increasing demands.