About the Instructor
I am not a librarian. I don't even play one on TV.
I have worked in a homeless shelter most of my life, though.
I began volunteering at my local shelter—Hesed House—when I was thirteen years old. I only went because the girls in my Sunday school class were going and I thought I could get a date. I was unsuccessful, but I did discover that I loved hanging out in homeless shelters.
I started working at that same shelter while in college, continuing through law school and graduate school. After taking the bar exam (successfully!), I transitioned from an intern to Executive Director.
Except for a stint in Washington D.C., I have worked at Hesed House ever since, watching it grow from “merely” the second largest homeless shelter in Illinois into one of the country’s first “comprehensive homeless resource centers.”
Over the last few decades, I have talked to thousands of homeless individuals and faced every situation you can imagine.
A few years ago I gave a speech to a group of librarians on some of the skills that we use in homeless shelters. After the speech, I was inundated with more training requests than I could handle. I threw together a YouTube Video (the old Librarian's Guide to Homelessness) in an afternoon, expecting that it might get a few dozen views.
I was wrong.
That old--hastily made--video has been viewed over 9,000 times and even years later is viewed by 10-15 new people every day.
Based on the overwhelming interest in learning skills to work with homeless patrons, I am in the process of putting together a much better training resource for library staff. If you want to get periodic emails of content as it is being developed, send me a message below and I will add you to the email list.
Thank you for your service to your community and particularly to the homeless individuals in your community. If you have any feedback on how this training could be made better, please contact me below. I would love to hear from you!
Ryan J. Dowd, Atty., MPA
p.s. A little bit more about me: I'm married with two children and two dogs. My favorite book is Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac.