ALBANY, GA (WALB) - When it's cold, area homeless flock to shelters for a warm place to spend the night. But where do they go during the day, when the temperature clings near freezing? For many, the answer is anywhere they can. One option is the library.
In Albany, the main branch is open almost 12 hours a day. And it's warm. As night falls, people will once again line up at local shelters for a warm bed, but tomorrow morning, when temperatures are still dangerously low, where will they go?
"I see more. I see more and it's really sad," said Mary Neal has worked in the library system for 34 years, but she never knew how bad the homeless problem in Albany was until she began working at the main branch downtown.
She said, "It's really sad. When I leave in the afternoon at 6 o'clock and see them outside in the bench and peeping under from the cover that they have, it's really sad and it hurts, that Albany as big a city as it is, that we have all of these homeless people."
Each day, about a dozen homeless come in to get out of the weather. "They're here. They're here before we open the door. They're waiting."
Just like other patrons, they are allowed to use all the materials available, and may stay as long as they like. Many stay all day. "All day. some are here until 9 O'clock when we close in the evening."
"We have noticed there's been an increase in the number of people that has been coming into the library and they've also been staying in the library a lot more," said Librarian Rodney McElveen.
"We welcome them to come in and get out of the cold and it's a good place for them to read a book or get some information they are looking for." But the biggest benefit, is the warmth and safety this building provides.
Sunday and Monday the library will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King, Junior Day.