The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

07 March 2005

CA: Kick Out Smelly Bums?

The article doesn't mention it, but if you've ever spent time in a typical California public library, you'll know they are dominated by street vagrants who use them as day shelters. It's a problem up and down the west coast, including Oregon and especially Washington State.

It's one thing to be tolerant toward homeless people who are down on their luck, but I'm talking about misbehaving layabouts who overwhelm facilities with personal belongings, including packs, sleeping bags and more. They use library restrooms for all kinds of disgusting, illegal behavior and generally prevent families from safely using the buildings. They're rude, loud and sometimes violent.

Librarians are placed in the uncomfortable position of playing security guards hoping to retain some level of civility inside the premises.

We aren't talking about using a bit too much perfume here- these are people who haven't showered in a week, if they ever do, who make the library unbearable for everyone.


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) -- A new county law aims to keep readers from reeking. Libraries in San Luis Obispo County have had their own rules banning offensive body odor since 1994, but the policy became law after the Board of Supervisors last month adopted an ordinance that lets authorities kick out malodorous guests.

Visitors to 14 libraries and a bookmobile also could be asked to leave for fighting, eating, drinking, sleeping, playing games, and printing or viewing illegal materials on library computers.

"The point is to make the library a comfortable, safe place for everyone to use," said Moe McGee, assistant director of the San Luis Obispo City-County Library.

A strict code of conduct, officials argue, is needed to ensure one patron's right to use a public library doesn't infringe on the rights of another.


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