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Mini-Libraries at Homeless Shelters

Mini-Libraries at Homeless Shelters

WCCLS brings books and entertainment to vulnerable populations.
person browsing books from a shelf

WCCLS set up mini-libraries at six winter shelters serving homeless adults throughout Washington County. Each mini-library comprises about 60 fiction and non-fiction books available in English and Spanish, along with activity packets replete with crossword puzzles, word searches and sharpened pencils (details matter!).

WCCLS collaborated with several organizations including Project Homeless Connect Washington County, Centro Cultural de Washington County and Good Neighbor Center. This project, led by the WCCLS Outreach team, was made possible thanks to the handiwork of every team at WCCLS including the staff at West Slope Community Library (the only library operated by Washington County/WCCLS). Teams joined forces to tackle everything from ordering shelves and selecting books to creating communications and establishing a plan for library card applications.

The mini-libraries served up to 180 guests across all locations, including three in Forest Grove and one each in Beaverton, Hillsboro and Tigard. Feedback has been positive.

“Folks are regularly reading through the books, taking and returning them. It’s been a great way to connect with guests as well for topics of discussion. Many of our guests really enjoy the books and activities,” says Candace Dunn, shelter manager at the Project Homeless Connect Washington County.

The winter shelters opened in mid-November; three closed in mid-March while three continue to operate. This project was modeled after the work WCCLS did to develop a mini-library for residents of the County’s Safe Sleep Village last October.