Monday, April 1, 2013

Your local skid row public library

Daniel Flynn at The American Spectator laments the conversion of public libraries into homeless shelters.

I began to notice the trend, myself, when I lived in Richmond. I’d go to the main library downtown every so often to look at the sales rack of books, or do job research (the bank I worked for was being purchased by a much larger institution and the odds of near-term unemployment were looking ominous). The homeless were numerous: lounging on couches, lolling on the front steps. I remember one occasion when I was sitting at a small table reading, and a few feet away, on the other side of a bookshelf, I heard a seriously mentally-ill person delivering a monologue (to himself) about some very ugly sexual fantasies, tinged with homicidal urges. There was another fellow I’d see there all the time, looked kind of like the late ex-Surgeon General, C. Everett Coop (if he’d been very much down on his luck). He’d take books and magazines down from the shelves, and sit at a table scribbling page after page of notes on a yellowing pad of lined paper. Once he got up and placed a phone call to the office of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond and commenced a pro-abortion rant at whoever answered (I imagine it was probably an office secretary; the person apparently hung up on him after a minute or two).

These days, I believe the library maintains a policeman or two on the premises during business hours. Not as bad as the library described by Flynn in the linked article, but I still wouldn’t go in there now unless I was packing.


SwampWoman said...

Most of our libraries have guards. Interestingly, to me at least, the ones that are giving away food (Hot Pockets) are the ones in the suburbs, not in the city.

bruce said...

Heading that way here in Australia, but not so bad yet. Just visited the university I graduated from, to find they've shut the old library - built in the 1970s! - which had many nooks and hiding places, to replace it with a shiny new place with panoptical security and fewer books on the open shelves. Guess they've seen the future.

Yeah we have free internet, cds, dvds etc in libraries too now. And all sorts of 'youth attractions'. sigh.

RebeccaH said...

The internet and Amazon have become my library.