By Kimberly Jin
Out in the bitter cold air, Daniel Palmer waves his crumpled cardboard sign — “homeless anything helps” — at people and cars passing by. Every day the 34-year-old stands here, at the intersection of South LaSalle Street and West Congress Parkway, patiently panhandling for hours. This is his “spot,” he says.
It’s not only about the busy traffic flow. From here, he can easily take a five-minute walk to the Harold Washington Library, where he goes to stay warm if it “gets too cold” in the wind, to read the newspaper, and check on the weather forecast, like many other homeless people.
Public libraries welcome everybody, no matter how much or little they have. But as more people in need such as Palmer turn to public libraries for warmth and safety, Chicago and area suburbs are leading the way in a growing trend where public libraries respond to the needs of the homeless by including social workers on staff to offer professional assistance.