It’s been about a year since my library was awarded a LSTA grant for our Homelessness Project. We still have yet to rename the project and refer to it as the Homelessness Grant. I’ve been very hesitant in writing about the grant because I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions about it.
On the one hand I understand and totally back the idea that it’s needed. Urban libraries across the nation, possibly the world, service many persons experiencing homelessness. As long as that state of living exist libraries should and will be there to serve them.
On the other hand there are times in the last year that I’ve feared we’ve taken on more than we are capable of actually accomplishing. It’s compounded by the fact that so many people/groups/organizations are looking at this project for validation either positive or negative.
We’ve made some great progress in some of our entertainment focused programs, and even our Men Rap Session is growing every session. However our informational programs, not so much.
It could be that the topics are off, we haven’t nailed the right times, or a number of other things. I feel very connected with those programs because they were my idea, I came by them after reading the literature and listening to all of our community partners. I want them to succeed but at the same time I’m not sure what success looks like in regards to them. With the new position my role on the committee might be changing, different responsibilities and all.
Any day now we are going to see if Year Two is approved to continue on the grant, I think we’ve done great work for the first year especially since this project is somewhat new and untested in the field. I think we are still figuring out things and understanding where the Library plays a role in this.
Apparently when one goes after big money it’s more complicated than one thinks. If you can cast your minds back to a few posts ago when I mentioned I was on a grant writing committee with my library. We are seeking funds to start offering new services to our transient population, as well as our general community. One of the major things about the library I work at is that it’s the main central branch. This means we serve a variety of people, unlike the branches who have become more of a neighborhood branch we are like the city’s neighborhood branch. More and more public libraries are expected to offer programs, both fun and informational. Well that costs money and that’s not something public libraries have in abundance. And with talk of a new central library being built I can only imagine the feeling that we would have more programming is steadily growing.
So a grant is in order and since we last left off I was working on some preliminary research and programming planning to go into the Letter of Intent. Well went sent that off and waited anxiously for word on whether or not we should actually submit a full grant proposal request. This past week we met and discussed the questions and concerns the state library brought. The first being the suggestion we ask for more money. At the end of the meeting we came away with more things to do, my number task is to pull up every single article that mentions public libraries and homelessness. Which is a lot, some with the homeless population painted in a negative view and some with them in a positive view? Since it’s more than I actually thought would be out there I’m narrowing it down to articles about programming and homelessness. I’ve found a great from a book club model in Australia that sounds similar to what we are trying to achieve through the programs.
This past week I’ve been tied up at work with meetings and program researching. All to help my library write-up a letter of intent for a grant we are seeking. If you recall I’ve done one of other grant writing process before, with the Diversity Research Grant. Which I’m beginning to see is different from a grant that a library would go after.
The goal of the grant is to help us improve the services offered to our homeless population. The homeless issue is big for almost all libraries and especially for the public ones. It’s nothing new and it’s something that you are going to have deal with if you work in a public library. For us it’s becoming an increasing topic as we go forth with the new Library Bond we just got the commission office to okay. It came up more than once, the sentiment that the main library “is nothing more than a day shelter and why should we build a new library for a bunch of homeless people?” Harsh, I know but it’s reality that there are people are there that think this way. Part and parcel of this project would be to offer up sensitivity and information training to not only the staff by the public at large.
This past week we’ve met to discuss the grant and work on the letter of intent which is due next month. I’ve been tasked with coming up with a really basic outline of informational programs that can be offered as part of the project. I’m kind of going about it blind because I don’t have background in homeless outreach services but there are some general classes that I feel can be beneficial to those who are temporarily homeless. We’ve already been able to sign on a host of local community partners which I know will be more than helpful in defining what this group’s real needs are.
It’s been very interesting and beneficial for me to work on this committee as I’m learning more about the Assistant Directors and how they work. As well as I’m learning grant writing skills, which is important for anyone in the non-profit world to know.