I walked through the front door of the downtown library but was not allowed to proceed. I was then told I had to leave. My violation? Carrying a sleeping bag. All rolled up and tucked neatly into its carrying case, somehow it became problematic for the venue. I asked the security guard “why”. She said, “because it’s the rules”. I asked, “But why it is a rule?” She told me that I’d have to talk to someone with the city about that. She said I could come in if I left the sleeping bag outside. I told her someone would steal it. She said I could have someone watch it for me. I told her I don’t know anyone I could trust to watch it. I asked her if she thought the rule was fair. She said she was just doing her job.
All the old cliche’ come out – “I’m only doing my job” – “In the grand equality of the law it is just as illegal for a rich man as for a poor man to bring a sleeping bag into a library.”
I think what gets me the most is that I have been allowed to carry my sleeping bag into every conceivable place without a problem – Cafe’s, Grocery Stores, Restaurants, Fast Food places, shopping malls and their stores, movie theaters – you name it, in my many years of homelessness, the ONLY place I’ve not been allowed to bring a sleeping bag with me is the public library – yeah, so much for the word ‘PUBLIC.’
The security guard gave me a list of the rules of the library. This is sad mostly because of all the different types of people, the homeless need the services of the public library the most.
Here is the list. It begins with this preface:
To allow library patrons and staff to use the library’s facilities without disturbance or undue interference, and to provide a clean, pleasant and safe environment, please consider your fellow library users and staff and refrain from the following in the library.
- Smoking, eating, or drinking, bringing open containers of food or drink in the library.
- Sleeping or loitering.
- Using loud, abusive, threatening or insulting language.
- Engaging in any disruptive or unsafe behavior.
- Disturbing, offending, intimidating, annoying, or harassing others.
- Leaving a child under the age of 8 unattended.
- Bringing any containers, packages, briefcases, parcels, or bundles into the library which singly or collectively exceed 24″x18″x6″. All items not prohibited are subject to inspection.
- Bringing shopping carts or wheeled conveyances into the building, with the exception of wheelchairs and baby strollers/carriages used for the actual transport of a person or child or wheeled backpacks and book carriers not exceeding 24″x15″x12″ (excluding handles).
- Bringing any animal into the building, with the exception of service animals accompanying a person with disabilities. As defined, a service animal (dog or miniature horse) is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The animals work or tasks must directly relate to the handlers disability.
- Bringing sleeping bags, bed-rolls, or blankets into the building (blankets for small children are acceptable).
- Coming into the library without wearing shoes and a shirt.
- Using cell phones and/or similar communication defies or software inside the library. Ringer volumes should be set to vibrate and use should be restricted to the lobby or outside the building.
- Distributing handbills or flyers, soliciting signatures for petitions, selling merchandise, or other similar activities that may disrupt patrons use and enjoyment of the library.
- Interfering with another person’s use of the library, or the library staff’s performance of their duties.
- Engaging in any activity prohibited by law.