Proposed Rules Would Ban Sleeping in LibraryWashington Post Staff Writers
By Martin Weil and Elissa Silverman
Monday, December 29, 2008; Page B03
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. [full story]
The coverage is in the Washington Post, but the more interesting story is in the online comments posted, which constitute a fascinating debate about the role of libraries and the problems of homelessness. Seems to be a polarizing issue.
Our approach to date at APL has been to evaluate situations on the extent to which they cause a problem and interfere with library use. The occasional (non-snoring) sleeper has not been a problem, someone passed out in a chair in an alcoholic haze with a booze bottle in his pocket is a problem. If all our chairs were occupied by sleepers it would be different, but where's the line? It's tempting to be black & white: "sleeping is forbidden!", but for now that seems more unjust -- if simpler -- than the more difficult gray of judgement calls.