Dubuque - Public Library Policy for Vulnerable and At-Risk Patrons

Libraries are the pride of many communities in the United States, offering free access to many materials, programming, access to internet and other technologies, and serving as a meeting place. They are also safe spaces for neurodivergent individuals who rely on them as a place for daytime shelter, information, and other resources.

Carnegie-Stout Public Library is seeking best practices for helping its staff respond to the needs of this specific community, while also negotiating their own workplace stress and maintaining a positive environment for other library patrons. For their capstone project, students in Public Affairs will work with library staff and liaisons from the Multicultural Family Center and a women’s shelter, both of which are near the library, to learn more about the situation in Dubuque, the staff’s experience, and current resources and challenges for neurodivergent patrons. They will collect and analyze best practices from libraries in other communities, including through direct conversations with experts from across the University of Iowa. The team will meet with neurodivergent patrons and librarians to learn about both groups’ needs.

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