Forget About That Ssshhh...No Sleeping in the Library

Washington Post reports: New rules have been proposed for D.C. public libraries, including a ban on sleeping and a limit on bringing in bags, in what library officials called an effort to make the system more welcoming.

But Mary Ann Luby, an advocate for the homeless, said the bag and sleeping rules "are going to be hard on people." Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper said she expected the new rules to take effect Feb. 1 at the Martin Luther King Jr. library downtown and at the system's branches.

"Everyone is still welcome," she said, adding that she expected the homeless to use the libraries and hoped "lots of other people do, too" (i.e., maybe not a preponderance of the homeless?)


.. now that they have a permanent address, issue them a damn library card.

again, I don't understand this homeless excuse.... "Sorry, I'm sleeping in front of your library; on the benches by your library; in your library; on your desk; in the bathroom stall; sorry for washing my clothes in the sink or toilet or water fountain; sorry for my bad attitude, bad smell, bad behavior... I'm homeless."

and we're all supposed to go, oh, I didn't know. oh, please, continue those unsanitary, unsafe habits because the people who pay the taxes to keep this library open don't really want to use it because you terrify their children when they go into the bathroom and find you naked washing yourself, or you pile an 8 foot long duffle bag on the table so nobody can sit at it to read, or you fall asleep and wake up 27 times every hour and freak out anyone who's sitting near you so that no one feels comfortable getting any of the magazines from M through W because that's where you've set up your makeshift territory with all your possessions. why don't you put up a little fence?

but you're homeless, so it's okay. I'm sorry that we are so intolerant. we should all just die.

Your handle should have an "A" between the "G" and the "L". Your lack of empathy probably comes from the fact that you are burnt out and should find a new profession. Some nice clean office somewhere you don't have to deal with the public. Homeless "excuse"?! Where do you want them to go? You chose to work with the public, but don't want to deal with what it actually entails. I also have a hard time dealing with the homeless and emotionally, mentally, and physically challenging people we have to work with all day...but I realize that is the job I signed up for and I can leave anytime I want. So can you. Whether we like it or not, libraries are a haven for those who have fallen through the cracks of our society. Probably not fair to you or I, but then again life is not fair. By the way, it is not "your" library..

You've left me gob-smacked. That is also probably the most positive thing I can say at the moment, too.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

If I am ever homeless I am going to come stay at your house.

If I am ever homeless I will go to work, earn some money, and get a home.

The American fairy tale about those who have a lot actually earning it, and those who do not are in some way totally responsible for their position is just a rehashing of the old assertions about "the right kind of people" from earlier days in American history.

Fact is that without 100 percent employment, there will always be people who want to work, without jobs being available for them to work at. A rather un "Catholic" opinion. Its roots lie in the particularly American protestant version of the "elect" which asserts that the rich are rich because they are gods chosen and the poor are poor because of some basic flaw. It was invented by the rich, to justify their being rich:

...If any idea ever lent itself to circular reasoning, it’s this one. To test the conservative hypothesis, we would need to know whether the people who succeed best in our society are the people who most deserve to.

That means having some way of knowing who’s deserving. But since we don’t know most people personally and can’t peer into their souls, we’re bound to rely in judging this on what we can see from the outside. And from the outside, the personal qualities that are easiest to measure are fame, wealth, power, status, and the popularity these lend a person (often leading to more fame, wealth, power and status).

Thus the strong temptation, to which conservatives happily succumb, is to treat such advantages as themselves evidence of fine character, and therefore as proof of what the person deserves.

Worldly rewards thereby justify themselves. And once it’s assumed that the people currently reaping such rewards are also in general the best people, then of course it will seem that the system is fair – it is, after all, rewarding the best people...

It wasn’t so long ago that phrases like “the best people” and “one’s betters” were in common use, as was language that marked a select few as people of “rank” or “quality.”

What these terms referred to was frankly unearned privilege. Shakespeare, for example, like everyone in his day, often used them as synonyms for lords, ladies and other titled aristocrats, people whose “quality” was established the moment they were born into one of “the better families.”

Even where formal titles were later abandoned, as in the U.S., terms like these continued to function as, basically, euphemisms for wealth.

....As we’ve noted, conservatives’ default assumption is that the wealthy must deserve to be where they are (because our society is basically fair), and by the same token most people who aren’t wealthy must not be trying or willing it hard enough. It follows that social-welfare programs are mostly just subsidies or, worse, breeding grounds for the shiftless. Attacks on “government handouts” are a standard part of the conservative repertoire. But when we trace wealth to its original sources, what we find – besides the fact that some people “earned” their fortunes while still in the womb – are the friendly policies, favorable treatment and sometimes outright giveaways that are the taxpaying public’s contribution to the social welfare of big moguls. The same holds when we trace the origins of society’s larger “fortune,” the prosperous modern economy, which could never have come into existence without big helpings of public investment. Conservatives fully support these government handouts of the past, even treat them as a kind of entitlement. They’re not praised openly, of course, because that might lend them credibility as precedents for today. Instead they’re just conveniently left out of the story. In this as in many other ways, conservative mythology depends crucially on a lot of things being forgotten.

Its a rather false argument because it procedes from a false assumption and that is that there are enough jobs to go around.

I can get a job. I don't sit on the couch and complain how terrible it is that I can't get a job.

I have worked at a day labor place doing construction clean up - albeit about 20 years ago. I've flipped burgers, worked at a gas station, and picked up dead people out of the road.

If I lose my job, I'll just get another one, I may not find a job I love or that pays as well right off the bat, but I certainly can get one that will keep a roof over my head. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

If you are ever homeless you will get a job, IF you have a place to get cleaned up, do your laundry, and your faculties are intact. Trust me, a lot of people out there don't even have that much going for them. I have a brother who is brilliant and talented, but has emotional and mental issues (schizoid personality disorder). He refuses to believe anything is wrong and will not take medication. Medication may not even help that much. We have all tried to take him in, but as you can imagine, life is difficult for him and us. He loves libraries, history and learning and has never hurt a soul in his life. Hopefully he will not show up at YOUR library...

>>libraries are a haven for those who have fallen through the cracks of our society.

Buzzer. Wrong answer. Libraries are not a haven. Shelters are a haven.

Shelters do not take people during the day...

I don't care what your excuse is. You can't make it impossible for others to use the library.

I work in a library; I do not work in a shelter. I do not look at the mom with her kids and say, "whoopy, he got here first, so he can sleep here if he wants. No, I can't ask him to move because he's like a little angel. I bet he's dreaming of unicorns."

you can work in the shelter. you can't sleep in my library.

Not your effin library. Get it? A lot of people are homeless because they are mentally ill and cannot hold a job and our society does not do an efficent system to handle some of these unfortunate people. Go work in an academic library or some clean white office somewhere.

Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

Many of the homeless people in this fair state (Calif) became such when that wonderful B-actor/governor Ronald Bonzo Reagan closed the state hospitals for the mentally ill and tossed their butts into the street.

Where else were they to go? In Camarillo, they went, of course, to the library. The funny thing is now the former Camarillo State Hospital is a Jr. College and uses one of the buildings as a (GASP) library.

As long as nobody is creating a disturbance, I say let them stay. Hell, we have had more problems/disturbances with the after-school teens than we have had with the few homeless who stay here.

Mi Takuye Oyacin

I have worked in libraries a number of years and I have seen many, many people fall asleep. Children, teenagers, older folks, even co-workers. I can honestly say that I have NOT seen any homeless fall asleep. I have had a few pee in chairs, but the kids and old folks do that too. Unfortunately, when you choose to work with the public, it means the PUBLIC, and you cannot discriminate who you serve and who you don't...unless they break clearly worded policies.

If homeless people need to get out the weather and need to sleep why don't they do that at City Hall or the Police Station or the Fire Station? Every city should have a shelter system where people can go so they don't freeze to death. I don't think the library should be a shelter.

Because the big, bad police officers and city officials would kick them out, but the nice, meek, librarians never would?

You do have a good point. Of all the government buildings that are open to the public, why is it that libraries are the one expected to deal with the homeless?

Maybe it's because the library does offer resources to help those stuck on hard times. Think about it. Free internet access to job listings, local newspapers with classifieds. Often libraries do keep local community listings for shelters, food banks, churches, free closets, etc.

I think the main reason is that the library is a place that encourages loitering. People browse and read or research at their own leisure. Other government agencies want to to state your business and leave.

You can't kick someone out of the library unless you have a legal right to do so. The homeless population in libraries has been debated for some time. You can't kick someone out of anywhere because you think they are homeless, but you can kick someone out for behavior. If you write library policies that are specific and enforceable, you can kick people out for violating those policies. A public library is place to go because everyone is welcome. Everyone has a legal right to be there until they violate the law.

I work in a Very (Filthy) Rich community...and we have 2 regular "homeless" customers that come here. One lives here and the other does not. Both are intelligent and usually verbally proficient. Both have money to live but are unable (for whatever reason) to maintain a sheltered abode like the rest of our "normal" (or not so normal) community members.

The non-homeless customers freak-out...ayup, sure do, because the behavior of the two is not in sync with their own perfectly tailored "public" demeanor. The "normal" ones seem to want the homeless to go away, however, both are products of this very same community (they grew up here and still have family here) so This Is their home. Both have money enough to eat, pay for use of the copier, pay for the book sale items, bus fare and one even pays her late fees, when she has them.

We have only ever called the sheriff because the one who lives here tends to get cranky and yell at people who offer to help her (even by holding the door open for her)...

The "mommies" have called the sheriff on the other one, because he is unkempt and dirty and the look of him (he has one blind roving eye and an odd hair cut) scares their children when he's holding the door open for them!

I was told by the sheriff, that this may be a "Public" building...but that means it is open to the public for their use, but still "privately" owned and we have the right to ask people to leave when their behavior is unacceptable.

Jeezuz...get a clue... As long as these people are not harming anyone or causing a disturbance, we allow them to stay! When they become a (Real) problem to someone we ask them to leave or we call the sheriff.

Who are we to judge?

Mi Takuye Oyacin

That those who are affluent or even middle class somehow have earned their status.

If one looks at the list of states that have the highest median income, the highest literacy, and all of the other economic advantages, you will note that all of these states have a massive government infrastructure that is designed to create wealth and not profits.

The states with the wealthiest middle classes, the lowest rate of unemployment, the populations with the highest percentage of citizens with college education and graduate degrees are all states that come closer to having European style social democratic governments than others.

You do not think New York City secretaries and book editors who have bene on the job 10 or 20 years earn 125,000 dollars a year, and get offered two years salary and health benefits as a severance bonus because of the kindness of their bosses hearts when their jobs are outsourced. Most of my old friend who stayed in New York rather than moved to other states are making fortunes doing what are essentially clerical jobs that fall well below the sort of job their educations would allow them to do. They are essentially very underemployed and very overpaid and they know it. They admit it. And they would not MOVE from the state they are in, or even look for other jobs, because they know if they did they would never come close to earning the sort of money they do now, even in their own chosen field. And some of these guys have law degrees from Ivy League schools.

They are offered it because the various state laws and the labor environment requires that they do so.

On the other hand, in Florida I have seen homeless professors of Mathematics with PhD's in advanced math fields.

There was rather little homelessness in the United States before the Reagan neo-con revolution occured.

I remember Reagans speech trying to sort of defend American democracy (defending the rise in homelessness that started occuring in the United Kingdom when Maggie Thatcher started applying Reaganomics to the British economy) because it gives the people the choice to DECIDE to be homeless.

That are now opening in some of the garden tourist spots of the United States:

On air: Stories from a Florida soup kitchen

We’re broadcasting from this place today . We went there earlier and it is somewhere full of hope and misery all at the same time.

The “ hope” part is the excellence of the volunteers and the generosity of local donors to keep the place going. The team was business-like but friendly, the kitchen spotlessly clean but homely.

The “misery” bit is the fact that the impressive Josh from the centre estimates that he’s serving 40 per cent more “customers” year on year.

This is here in Fort Myers in ”sunny” Florida.

In local Lee County the latest census estimates there are 3 thousand homeless people.

Last night it was pretty cold and many of them “come down from the woods ” (in the words of one of the volunteers) for a sink shower and something warm in their bellies.

We’re here for two reasons -

* Amid all the Obamania we wanted to find out what the people who have the most to gain and the least to lose hope for from their new president ; when we asked today we heard a range of answers from measures to deal with mental health, addiction, housing to simply boosting the economy so that more people have jobs.

* We have a partnership with local station WGCU (who have been brilliantly welcoming) and it made sense to look at the issue through the eyes of people here.

Somebody told us today that the local police given the kitchen bicycles that have been stolen when the owners can’t be traced. The staff at the kitchen ”award” the bike to a customer they are sure won’t either sell it for drugs or use it to commit crime. The bikes have become treasured symbols of rebuilding a life.

The main man at the kitchen apparently wants his team to be made redundant in a few years time simply because there’ll be no need for the facility to exist. Will this week’s events lead to that pleasant dream coming true ?

And if you think i’m getting all soft , i’m not. A few hours before we got there today one of the top volunteers had his jacket stolen - in the pocket was a set of keys to the van that delivers 200-400 hot meals to poverty-stricken people who can’t get out of their houses.

No-one said it would be easy - not even Barack Obama.

The article also includes photos of the British journalists who covered this story.

The little told story about the Great Depression in the United States is that something like 7 to 8 million people died of starvation or diseases related to malnutition. This has only recently been studied in the United States, but the Candians studied the losses in population that occured during the depression years ago.

Any librarian looking at the census data between 1929 and 1940 will note a very large drop in population. After addressing things like emigration and falling birth rate, there is still about an 8 million person discrepancy in the population figures.