Development Arrested says:
March 18, 2013 at 4:43 pm
In a public (and an academic!) library, librarians will work with patrons who are homeless, mentally ill, or on the spectrum. Sometimes our own staff will have these same conditions. They are not always the most pleasant people to work with, but that's (part) of our job.
me too says:
March 21, 2013 at 7:45 pm
We are not trained in the mental illness field and I am sick and tired of having a library full of people who need help that library staff are not able to provide. When you talk about us becoming irrelevant, it will be because "regular" people stop coming to our libraries because they are afraid of the kind of people who are more and more becoming fixtures in our libraries. Some are mentally ill, some are thieves, some are drug users, some are perverts, some are pedophiles and some are just plain evil. That is what is going to put us out of business. I've worked in libraries for the past 30 years and even in small town, libraries are becoming jungles. Moms aren't going to bring kids to storytime or vote for a bond when our libraries are full of people masturbating, talking to themselves, fighting, hitting and spitting, smell like death and are obvious disease carriers.
me too says:
March 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm
You don’t get it. I may have used a bit too much hyperbole for you. The people who keep us relevant are more and more AFRAID to come to our libraries because we have become the home for all the fringe people in our culture. It's a public library, sure, but it has become the dumping ground for social services and every other government agency that has given up or can't fund adequate care for many of these people. I repeat, I have not the training nor do I have the desire to spend the rest of my career dealing with social issues that our state and federal governments have abandoned to us. I don’t believe God intends the public library to be the home, hospital, bathroom, shower and bedroom for all these folks. I'm just telling it like it is. Do you actually think our job is to get trained in the mental health field so we can better help these folks? I'm a friggin librarian not a miracle worker. I don't want to be a miracle worker. I don't want to deal with people every fucking day of my life who don't have a clue what planet they live on. Sorry if that upsets you and God. Perhaps you could create some kind of nirvanna for these folks at your library. I can't.
March 23, 2013 at 12:33 am
I agree. My urban library is essentially the daily hangout for the homeless. I have nothing against homeless as people and I think more needs to be done to prevent it, but these are the people who destroy the library for everyone else. They are lined up at the door before we open and go back to the shelter at closing time. It is killing us because we are not equipped or capable to be social workers or a homeless shelter. There are, in fact, social workers and homeless shelters in existence for a reason. We have (seemingly weekly) heroin overdoses, an upstairs bathroom that is apparently the local gay-sex hangout, people who walk around talking to themselves, people masturbating at the computers, people fist fighting over computers, exposing themselves to staff, prostitution, bathing in the bathrooms, drug dealers; and that's just the normal stuff.
Though it isn't an official policy, the staff warns parents who bring in children because pedophiles are known to target the library. Also, it kinda sucks when you have to check for seminal or menstrual fluid and vomit before you sit down at a desk. I know we aren't unique in our experience as an urban library.
The overwhelming majority of the research requests we get are over the phone. People who are not part of the homeless population do not visit the library. They do not feel safe here and they have stated as such. People would rather not get the information than come in to the facility. Last week we had someone (who had never visited before) ask immediately upon entering our area if the library in the suburbs could answer her research question because she was not comfortable in this environment. I wonder how she will vote once a levy comes up on the ballot?
Look, I know we are all good liberals and feel we are supporting the reactionary conservatives who disdain education if we say anything other than the homeless are a blessing and joy. I've found that is what the underlying issue is. But let's be honest: Libraries are not shelters. They are not designed to be. Librarians are not medical professionals or social workers. We are not trained to be. These resources exist. We have a different mission and skills. Are we supposed to be nurses literally handing out their psychiatric medication to tame schizophrenia? Those who come in with the habits listed above (and throughout this thread) are hindering us from doing our job and making it less likely we will continue to receive community support.
Look, the homeless patrons are by and large not "decent folks just down on their luck" who would easily create the next million-dollar internet start-up if only a noble librarian would show them the resume builder software. They have these resources at the homeless shelter. The social workers know exactly how to get these people back on their feet and they give them the opportunities. The homeless here don't need the help from us because anything we could offer is already being offered by professionals. Sorry to say, but they generally want to remain drug addicted and use the public library as their home base, all the while treating the staff like we are their personal butlers there solely to serve them.
Parading as a homeless shelter is killing the urban library system in America.
Source: Comments to
- "Banned from All Libraries," by Annoyed Librarian, Library Journal, 18 March 2013.
The title of my post is nearly a direct quote from one of the commenters.
Note: I have written about the homeless in libraries before:
- "Hidden Library Crime: Security Guard Reveals Libraries Want Door Greeters, Not Security Guards; Case Evidences Harm of American Library Association Control Over Libraries," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 8 March 2012
- "LA Times Supports Filtering Porn from Public Libraries," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 29 December 2011
- "Laguna Beach Pubic Library," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 6 December 2011
- "Porn and Sex Abuse In Our Public Libraries: Public Library Porn Harms Children, Patrons, Librarians, and Porn Industry Actors," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 24 July 2011
- "Bums are Ground Zero in Libraries - Librarianship is a Hazardous Occupation," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 21 February 2011
- "Tacoma Library Crime Rampant; Library Director Once Chased Pedophile Out of the Library and Across a Parking Lot While Wearing Her High Heels; Library Itself Partly to Blame and May Be Committing Fraud," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 19 February 2011
- "Kansas City Library Riddled with Crime: No Internet Filters is Why, and Acceptable Use Policies Do Not Work," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 20 May 2010
- "Twin Students of Different Mothers Want Internet Filters," 20 February 2010
- "Sex in Public Library Bathrooms Results in Nation's First Full-Time Psychiatric Social Worker Stationed in a Public Library," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 11 January 2010
- "432 Patrons Ejected from Seattle Libraries in First Four Months of 2009; Librarians 'Assaulted, Threatened and Spit Upon,'" by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 28 May 2009
- "Homeless Children and Banned Books," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 10 March 2009
- "Hartford Librarians Should Sue to Rid ALA Influence," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 18 May 2008
Will the American Library Association do anything about this? Feel free to comment below.
NOTE ADDED 31 MARCH 2013:
See also, and the comments:
- "Shush!; Today's Public Library Could Be Mistaken For a Halfway House, Homeless Shelter, or Federal Penetentiary'," by Daniel J. Flynn, American Spectator, 29 March 2013.