Colbert Nembhard looked more like a traveling salesman than a librarian in his dark suit with his rolling suitcase on a recent Wednesday morning in the Bronx.
He had strolled 10 minutes to the Crotona Inn homeless shelter from the Morrisania Branch Library, where he has been the manager for 25 years. As he dug through the dozens of books stuffed inside the suitcase, an announcement crackled over the intercom inside the shelter, where 87 families live: “Mr. Nembhard is here to read stories and sing songs to your children.”
Mr. Nembhard made do in a small office filled with file cabinets and dated desktops that also serves as a computer lab, a children’s classroom and a community recreation room. Tacked to a bulletin board were paper plates, colored and cut into fish shapes. A “Happy Birthday” balloon, almost out of helium, floated a foot above the floor.
For the past eight years, …
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