If homeless people are attracted to libraries, why not use the opportunity to raise their awareness of services that could help them and make literature that addresses homeless issues available to them. –T.J.
Public libraries are a primary source of information and refuge for the poor and disenfranchised. However, many public libraries have enacted policies that limit homeless patrons’ access to library resources. These policies are often put in place in response to complaints from other patrons about the presence of those exhibiting signs of poverty. District of Columbia Public Library put an “offensive body odor” policy into place that was later declared unconstitutional by the courts because of its uneven enforcement.1 Similarly, Tacoma (Wash.) Public Library banned the presence of bulky bags and bedrolls in the library.2
Other policies attempt to control the conduct of patrons, but their uneven application has led many to question whether these codes are little more than “poverty profiling.” Multnomah County (Ore.) Public Library, for instance, has enacted policies detailing the proper use of restrooms…
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