Libraries are a place where anybody can walk in and change their life,” said Coun. Joshua Wall. “But it’s a bit of a lighthouse to the downtrodden who go in to get warm in the winter and cool off (in the summer). A worker can give them a hand up.”
Since 2010, the library has had a worker who provided help mainly to “at-risk” youth and marginalized children and their families.
The position, vacant since August, will now have a broader focus.
“The current needs of the library have shifted significantly since the position was created,” Kevin O’Hara, Brantford’s manager of housing stability, said in a report to city council. “Supporting young people remains a priority, however, vulnerable community members of all ages are in need of support within the library.”
“You think, in a traditional sense, of a library providing books, but it goes way beyond that,” said Coun. John Utley. “For some it’s a safe haven, a place to find a little bit of comfort.”
Coun. Dan McCreary called the pilot program “a very progressive thing for the library to be doing.” He said the city is moving toward providing services “where people need them.”
Mayor Kevin Davis said it’s an other example of the innovative work being done by the library whose staff have been reaching out to seniors and others during the pandemic “to see how they’re doing.”