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Hennepin County Library was awarded $55,000 to enhance services specifically targeted to precariously housed individuals and to strengthen community partnerships with organizations whose primary mission is serving people experiencing homelessness.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation awarded three Minnesota libraries — Duluth Public Library, Hennepin County Library in Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs, and Rochester Public Library — a total of $157,327 for projects that promote health equity in communities. All of these libraries will work in collaboration with other area nonprofits.
Hennepin County Library’s grant proposal was based on Library staff research and identified needs that emerged during 2012 training sessions and focus groups. Project Manager, Librarian and Health Equity Advocate Amy Mars will facilitate implementation and community partnerships, and will do some direct service to patrons.
“Hennepin County Library is honored to be one of three grant recipients in the state,” said Library Director Lois Langer Thompson. “Together with our partners, and building on the fine ongoing work of our staff, we are committed to increasing our capacity to serve individuals who are homeless.”
The Hennepin County Library grant project, which is funded through August 2014, will expand current Shelter Providers Action Association (SPAA) office hours at Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central. Currently community service providers offer “office hours” in two public conference rooms on the first floor at Minneapolis Central Library every other Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Signage and pop-up messages on public computers during these times (at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.) invite people to stop by the rooms if they would like to meet with staff. Staff on site are from Hennepin County Health and Human Services, Salvation Army, and various local shelters.
In addition, programming for precariously housed patrons will be offered at Minneapolis Central Library. Program content is being developed with community partners and potential attendees. Based on the needs expressed by those accessing office hours at Minneapolis Central, the Library anticipates offering life skills programming including basic computer skills.
The grant also supports adding or refreshing crisis resource information at all Hennepin County Library locations in lobbies and near courtesy telephones. Project Manager Amy Mars will work with staff to provide relevant on-demand information as well as training for staff on how to assist information-seekers and make appropriate referrals.
Friends of the Hennepin County Library submitted the grant proposal on behalf of the Library. Work supported by the grant and led by Project Manager Amy Mars is focused on building infrastructure, so Hennepin County Library has the necessary staffing, information and service delivery models in place.