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MCPL Working To Ensure Access To Library Services For Domestic Violence Survivors

A monroe county public library card

(WFIU/WTIU News)

The Monroe County Public Library is starting a new program to make sure survivors of domestic violence can access services.

Creating Access for Violence Survivors, or CAVS, will work to reduce barriers for people displaced by domestic violence.

If someone is staying in a shelter or is in hiding from a violent partner, they may not be able to prove residency for a library card.

Working with Middle Way House and the Rise Shelter, MCPL will offer residents library cards and iPads to access digital library services.

"I’m really excited about the potential impact on our community," says information assistant Shannon Bowman-Sarkisian. "I think the amount of people that we could reach to increase access for them is huge and it makes our library a more compassionate, inclusive place.”

Bowman-Sarkisian is studying to be a librarian at Indiana University. She designed the CAVS project for the library's internal Pioneer Grant. The Friends of the Library awards the $1,500 grant each year to a project that is "innovative and beneficial to the community." 

Bowman-Sarkisian says as a domestic violence survivor herself, she knows first-hand how useful a local library can be. 

"I’m coming from the perspective of someone who used my public library as a huge resource to get back on my feet, to attend job training workshops, to access internet when I couldn’t before," she says. 

Bowman-Sarkisian says the project will include implementing new policies and procedures for people who struggle to get a library card or keep an account in good standing.

It will also include a training program for library staff on how to help survivors. And they’ll ask the Board of Trustees to forgive fines for materials abandoned while fleeing violence.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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