Thursday, December 29, 2011
Public Libraries and the Homeless...
Last week, the children's librarian called me out to assist a patron. There was a homeless guy standing by the info desk and the children's librarian told him that I would be able to help him "better." From the look on her face I could tell that she didn't want to deal with him, which is okay because 1. I really like her 2. I can help anyone.
The new library branch I work at has probably the richest local community in the county. The 2000 household income for the area was $125,000. There isn't any form of public transportation nearby which could lead one to infer another reason why there aren't any homeless patrons compared to other branches in the same system.
The patron's clothes or personal hygiene were not well kept, but he was very polite. He came in to the library to find out more information about "an ancient jade statue" which he possessed. Someone told him that it was extremely valuable and he was planning to donate it to a local museum. He was fairly certain it was either Egyptian or Mayan. While the library did not have any items on this particular subject matter, I did guide him to the section on ancient history. Without stating it forthright, he hinted that he couldn't read so I tried to find books with the most pictures in it.
He sat down at one of the tables with an armful of books and spent the next two hours flipping through each one studying each picture of ancient artifacts. If my coworker was unsure of how to handle a homeless patron in the branch, other patrons made it known as well. Several of them would stare at disgust as they walked past and others moved several tables away from him. I know it wasn't because he smelled, which he didn't, it was because they're not used to homeless in "their library."
I would rather help him any day than deal with patrons who feel that just because they already pay taxes they don't need to pay their late fees. Those are the worst.
Labels: Homeless Patrons