Federation of Ontario Public Libraries

COVID-19 reinforces the importance of public libraries for Toronto’s homeless population

COVID-19 reinforces the importance of public libraries for Toronto’s homeless population

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““One of the key things that I find great about libraries is the digital access,” Velji said. “Every one of our libraries has free WiFi […] so anybody can use our spaces and get access to our WiFi.”

Apart from providing internet access, the TPL’s locations can also act as temporary shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness. They’re cold in the summer, warm in the winter, and place no limits on the duration or frequency of patrons’ visits. In addition, libraries typically have clean public washrooms and cold water fountains.

For a person with nowhere else to go, the library is a perfect place to sit down, read a book, and take a break from the outside world.

According to Velji, the TPL is constantly working to improve how it responds to the needs of marginalized patrons, including low-income individuals, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous visitors.