Find Ways to Say Yes: How we Made our Library More Inclusive Through Removing Barriers to Membership
Creating policies that are equitable and inclusive can often mean an iterative process of incremental changes that slowly evolve the culture of an organization. One example of this is the way that Driftwood Public Library, a medium-sized coastal library in Lincoln City, changed its library card policies to better serve members of the community experiencing homelessness or without a fixed address.
In 2013, Driftwood Public Library (DPL) began an initiative to look at our policies and procedures with fresh eyes, and modify those policies that were presenting significant barriers to individuals who wished to use the library. Library card policies quickly rose to the top. At the time, the library required official photo ID and proof of address to obtain a card, as well as the contact information for a third party who did not live with the applicant. The proof of address requirement was very stringent, requiring a lease or utility bill in the person’s name. It presented a great deal of difficulty for individuals who had recently moved to the city or who did not have any accounts in their own name. A scenario that library staff encountered more than once concerned adult children who had returned to Lincoln City to care for an ailing family member. Because they did not own or lease property in the area, were in town for an extended visit with an uncertain endpoint, and were usually staying with the family member, proving residency was a surprisingly difficult hurdle.