In 2007, Chip Ward, ending his career in libraries after 30 years, wrote an essay about what he was seeing happen at the Salt Lake City Library, where he worked.
In the essay, Ward described how libraries had become a place of refuge for homeless people, a daytime shelter in fact if not in name. And librarians were not equipped to be social workers or mental health professionals that these people needed.
Among those who read the essay was the actor and filmmaker Emilio Estevez, who acquired the film rights to Ward’s essay and made a movie, “The Public,” which opened in theaters this past weekend.
Here is my Salt Lake Tribune article about how that happened, and what today’s Salt Lake City Library is doing to help the city’s homeless, both practically and emotionally.