Yesterdays paper had an article about the strides the library has made in dealing with its large amount of homeless visitors. Yes, added security and a larger space have made a difference. The library is larger so it could hold the homeless more discreetly and the added security does help, although I think it is there more as an essential element in maintaining the library as a tourist attraction.
So did the issue that plagued the old central library really improve?
Social service issues can never be solved through architecture, they might be improved but never solved.
Why couldn't a small section of the library be designed with this need in mind? Why not a section of the library dedicated to the homeless where they can come in out of the cold or come in and wait until the shelters open? This running of this section could be outsourced to a newly created or existing non-profit agency or the friends of the library.
Of course there would be one requirement- to use this section one would have to take part in a literacy class, job skills class or some kind of program that addresses the complex issues they face. No class, no hanging out. Before too long you could have them shelving books! Much like the missions who require anyone who wants to sleep at their mission to attend a church service.
This same issue raised its ugly head with the recent completion of the redesign of Occidental Park in Pioneer Square. 2 million dollars of taxpayer money to create a more user-friendly park. Most of the attention was focused on the removal of 17 trees, none on how to deal with the homeless problem. It wasn't two weeks from when the Mayor cut the ribbon to open the park that every seat and every bench was occupied by a homeless person.
Again, you can't solve social service issues through landscape architecture.
It also seems that whenever we get a cold spell here in Seattle this 'homeless out of the cold" type story gets recycled. I trust that there is enough newsworthy happenings out there that we can take all the recycled story lines and finally put them in the garbage or the "news waste" container for good.