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Commentary: Wu needs to check out issues in the library

July 17, 2012|By Elizabeth Stahr

The column ("Wu: A new chapter of library rules") by Jack Wu on Sunday morning in the Daily Pilot demonstrates that he does not understand current problems with libraries nationwide.

When we built the library to open in 1994, we purposefully did not make "comfortable" the upstairs reading room. There were no foot stools, no lamps; it was functional as a reading room. The purpose being that we did not want people sleeping in there. The last library director added the foot stools and lamps. Santa Ana Library has a police officer constantly patrolling to see that people do not sleep the library.

At library conferences now, the major topic is the homeless. It is not books, but how to handle a public building with homeless people using it.

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Does Wu want his children to be spending time there when there are shopping carts by the front door or bicycles parked by the door? We want our children to be able to enjoy a safe environment so that they can use the library and we are comfortable and secure knowing that they will be all right.

Wu needs to go up to someplace like Victoria, Canada, and see the swarm of homeless people who come outside when the library closes for the day. They are inside to be either warm or cold depending on the weather. The library is not a motel for sleeping and using the bathrooms. There was once a lady who came every Sunday to wash her hair in the restroom.

On the UC Irvine campus, in one of the facilities where I used to teach, it was made very clear that no one entering the building could have on perfume or deodorant. One of the staff people was allergic to all of that.

Staff at the library costs money. Our library was carefully designed to require the minimum of staff people to see that it functioned and was safe. The last thing that we want is to have police presence when the library is a place where many people come to read the morning papers, magazines and just have a place where they are with other people.

These new "rules" are in place to aid our dedicated staff, to see that the library is comfortable for everyone.

ELIZABETH STAHR lives in Corona del Mar. She helped raise funding to construct the Central Library.

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