Public libraries supporting people experiencing homelessness

Group member: Jane Garner

Project website:

This three-year project funded by an Australian Research Council DECRA Grant allows me to explore how public libraries can best support people experiencing homelessness or insecure housing. The project has the following aims:

  1. To understand the service, resource and environmental needs of the Australian homeless community that could be met by public libraries in our urban, regional, and remote contexts.
  2. To understand the attitudes and concerns of public library staff, and non-homeless library users in Australian urban, regional, and remote contexts relating to the homeless community being present in their libraries.
  3. To understand the attitudes of Australians experiencing homelessness in urban, regional, and remote contexts towards public libraries.
  4. To optimise the relationships between homelessness service agencies and public libraries in Australian urban, regional and remote communities through strong public policy.
  5. To build theoretical frameworks and public policy foundations that support the design of public library services, resources and environments to meet the needs of the Australian homeless community in our urban, regional and remote contexts.

During the project, I will be working with two urban communities including a group of men currently living in prison but coming to the end of their sentences, two regional communities, and two remote communities. Each of these will be located in Australia. The project will answer the following research questions:

  1. What resources, services and environmental needs do people experiencing homelessness believe could be met by a public library?
  2. What are the attitudes of public library staff and library users in regard to including people experiencing homelessness in public library spaces?
  3. What do people experiencing homelessness see as barriers to using public libraries?
  4. What public policy foundations would facilitate housing service providers and public libraries working together to support each other’s work?
  5. What public policy foundations would facilitate the provision of public library resources, services and environments that people experiencing homelessness would design for themselves?

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