IFLA is attending the Commission on Social Development of the United Nations, highlighting how effective library services can make a difference in finding solutions to homelessness.

The 58th Meeting of the United Nations Commission on Social Development is taking place on 10-19 February in New York.

Bringing together government officials, experts and civil society representatives from around the world, it will take an overview of the UN’s wider work on social issues, and focus in particular on what can be done around the world to tackle homelessness.

As set out in the background documents for the meeting, homelessness is not merely a lack of physical housing, but is also a loss of family, community and a sense of belonging.

It is, too often, associated with a loss of other rights – to education, to health, to access to information and culture, each potentially deepening the problem, and representing an opportunity lost.

Libraries, alongside other public services, have a duty to do what they can to help. Indeed, as part of the social infrastructure of any community, and so can be key actors in efforts to tackle the causes – and the effects – of homelessness.

For many people experiencing homelessness, the opportunity to use a library means having a vital location to relax and take part in the cultural life of the community.

Libraries can also offer stigma-free venues for offering support and training that helps people get back on their feet. They can also be portals, and complements, to other actions to help people get into stable housing and work.

IFLA will be engaging in the meeting, celebrating library examples, and encouraging governments globally to look to libraries when trying to deliver on social policy goals.

Read IFLA’s Guidelines for Library Services to People Experiencing Homelessness. IFLA will be represented at the meeting by Genilson Geraldo.