Editor's Note: This article on one of the most important current library trends originally appeared in Medill Reports, which features journalism by students in the graduate program at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
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.