Library offers services for patrons in need

  • Posted on: 25 March 2019
  • By: Connie Chow

March is Reach Out to Your Neighbor Month and throughout the Huntsville-Madison County Library system we aim to be a steady source of information and resources for our neighboring communities.

At the Downtown Huntsville Library, due to our centralized location and numerous services, we serve a diverse patron base.  Patrons experiencing homelessness utilize our branch’s services often.  Our free public computers, free Wi-Fi, and plentiful reading materials are available to them during their visits to the library. We also offer a free phone in our patron lounge that may be used for short outgoing calls.

The library also partners with local organizations to expand on our services to the homeless or those in need. Since 2015, the North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless (NACH) has offered services through a satellite office on the 2nd  floor of the Downtown Huntsville Library. In 2018, the NACH office assisted over 4,600 individuals. Their office hours are 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Thursday and provide the following services:

  • applications for housing lists
  • applications for  copies of birth certificates, social security cards, and voter ID
  • Continuum ID (a non-government identification card)
  • food stamp, family assistance, and housing authority applications
  • referrals to other agencies for services NACH is unable to provide
  • winter necessities such as blankets, scarves, gloves, and hats
  • snack packs
  • hygiene kits
  • bus passes on a case by case basis

The goal is to create accessibility to social services through our library. NACH is able to connect with their clients, and we are able to provide services our patrons need the most.

Recently, the library has partnered with Wellstone Behavioral Health to offer office hours with a peer support specialist. The specialist is onsite from 9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. on Fridays to share information and give referrals to the mental health services that Wellstone offers. We have additional plans in the future to offer educational programs on financial literacy and mental health topics.

To help our neighbors, we are working with local organizations to provide services and programs that assist our patrons in need. These collaborations strengthen all of our reach into the community by lessening duplication of effort and allowing us to provide the services we are best at whether it is addressing basic needs or facilitating knowledge to help strengthen and sustain our communities.

Connie Chow is the Branch Manager for the Downtown Huntsville Library.