Learning the meaning of public service.

This morning, I attended a meeting of a coalition of local organizations who provide services for people who are unstably housed. I was glad for the opportunity to listen to how the members of these organizations are supporting our community, and I was especially touched by how a couple of these members reached out to me to thank the public library for our part.

Way back when, in my first library job, I had no idea what librarianship was really about. (I cringe when I consider my very first library job interview; I probably said something lame like, “I love to read!”) I was barely cognizant of what customer service was, let alone public service. After a little over two decades, I am definitely still learning, especially as our field collaborates with social work, as in Whole Person Librarianship.

To date, the training that has helped me the most has been Ryan Dowd’s Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness. Ryan also has a weekly newsletter for tips on compassionate work with patrons experiencing homelessness. But better than any training is the affirmation like the kind I received this morning: there are people working hard to serve our community, and they appreciate all the help that we can give them.

If you want to get involved, here are a few organizations in eastern Washington County:

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: a small tortoiseshell cat snoring.

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