Broward County, Fla.
Coffee and Conversation with a Librarian is a weekly program offered at Main Library in Broward County, Florida, that builds bridges with the homeless community. It offers an opportunity for persons experiencing homelessness and other customers to informally meet with a librarian and social service providers to discuss topics or concerns over a cup of coffee. Coffee and Conversation with a Librarian significantly benefits the community by providing people experiencing homelessness with a safe, comfortable place they can go to share information and get assistance. It reaches a traditionally underserved population in a non-traditional way by creating a judgement-free, informal atmosphere where everyone is treated equally and with dignity. It fills a gap in community services by working with attendees in both small groups and one-on-one to build trust and help with issues of importance to people experiencing homelessness. It is easily and inexpensively replicated by libraries of every size. It offers a compassionate, humanizing way to connect with and assist a population that has typically been marginalized and provide help and services to them. Coffee and Conversation with a Librarian has also allowed the library to form valuable community partnerships that benefit its attendees. Additionally, it is aligned with the one of the value of Broward County Commission’s Strategic Plan which is “Approaching human services collaboratively and compassionately, with special emphasis on persons and families experiencing homelessness.”
Ms. Catherine Helen McElrath
Publication Specialist, Libraries Division