San Diego county is a region of outdoor living, from students who eat at lunch tables in noontime sun on a daily basis to community events scheduled at parks and beaches year-round. Every now and again, however, our residents are slammed by icy rainstorms and gusty winds that warrant an actual umbrella to get from the car to the house and back again. Come the weekend, families hit the road to pitch a couple of snowballs in Julian or Pine Valley with the promise of returning home to warmth and dry clothes after a day of play. In the meantime, homeless residents on the lookout for a dry place to take shelter by day turn to spaces that are free, with a public bathroom and a place to charge a cellular phone. As with so many other community services, the library checks out.
Counterpoint to the physical presence of rain and the need for a warm refuge, there is also respite to be found in the safety of resources for residents who might have a warm bed at night but struggle by day for information, connection, community. Really, is the older man who clearly has not showered in some time with weathered skin and a collection of bags seated at a public library table for a six-hour stretch so different from the quiet girl who does not use the name from her birth certificate and sneaks bites of food from her backpack in the teen reading area? Neither one appears to check out books. More noticeably, both use the library as shelter from whatever their life looks like once they pass through the doors at closing time with their hunched shoulders and lonely looks.
Noticeably, the event listings at local libraries include a few key categories. Sure, there are story hours for children, game nights for families and monthly book clubs for avid readers but there are also meetups that might not have existed 10 years ago.
A 2021 Institute of Museum and Library Services article “Showing Their Pride” describes the steady increase of LGBTQrelated programs in recent years, including those where people talk about their experiences as homeless teens with a connection to the LGBTQ community.
Meanwhile the American Library Association has research available on programming for baby boomers, the 78 million Americans born from 1946 to 1964 who are at risk of being overlooked by society upon widowhood.
Along with fire and police services, and a local elementary school, the library is a fixture in most communities, offering a roof but also providing shelter.
This month, local libraries have a rich offering of events which blanket a wide swath of the community.
- The Alpine library staff is celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday with a special story time and craft for children ages five and up from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on March 4.
- The Alpine library hosts family story time every Wednesday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
- A free baby story time is also offered at the Alpine library every Friday at 10:30 a.m.
- Paws for Reading: kids can read aloud to a certified therapy dog on Tuesdays from 4 to 5 p.m. Sign up for a 10-minute session at the front desk up to 15 minutes early. Space is limited.
- Join in Crafters’ Paradise Wednesdays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Bring your own portable project or learn how to crochet or knit with yarn provided for free.
- Would you like help downloading the latest magazines, ebooks, and audiobooks for free? Stop by the Alpine library on Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and receive tech help from library staff on the use of the library’s many free programs.
- Kingdom Quilters will be meeting from 12:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on March 9 in the Alpine library for a regular Sit & Sew quilting session to benefit children in need with the comfort of a handmade quilt. No supplies or experience necessary.