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April 28, 2005

Libraries = Homeless Shelters

Posted in: General,Main

My days of going to the library have been certainly diminished with the advent of the INTERNET. My thesis research days are long past as well. However, that does not mean that libraries do not greatly serve communities providing reading & research environments to children. Reading, something that should be stressed even more than already presently is done. However, libraries have come under assault recently as being a place to loiter for many and Houston Public Libraries look like the intend to put an end to it.

Those who want to browse books at Houston’s public libraries should get enough sleep, eat and bathe before they begin to peruse the shelves.

On Wednesday, the City Council passed a series of library regulations that some say are an attempt to discourage homeless people from visiting the public buildings.

Library officials said people have been using the libraries as temporary shelters, restaurants and changing stations. The new ordinance prohibits sleeping on tables, eating, using restrooms for bathing and “offensive bodily hygiene that constitutes a nuisance to others.”

Two council members voted against the ordinance, saying it was a direct attack on the homeless.

“I understand what they’re trying to do, but when you start targeting a community like the homeless, I think that’s poor policy,” council member Ada Edwards said.

Mayor Bill White said there have been several complaints from the public about abuse of the city’s libraries.

Folks, a library is not a homeless shelter. I am sure that no one in the Houston Council or any where for that matter would probably even care if homeless individuals did not bath and were actually using the library for its intended purpose, READING!!! The fact that we want to take children’s rights or any one else that wishes to use a library for the homeless right is puzzling. I am sure I know which side the ACLU will come down on this issue.

This is obviously not a new problem as many communities have tried to address the situation of homeless using libraries as day shelters.

Coming from personal experience in our local community the same issue exists. So we are supposed to have children go to a library where there are other people there who have no intention of using the library for its educational resources. It would not be so bad if some of the homeless in turn did not panhandle. What parent in this day and age is going to allow their child go to a library and have strangers come up to them. If parents do not allow their children to go because of fear of leaving them in a public place with individuals that have no real reason to be there, then the funding becomes difficult as no one in a community will support something that no one uses.

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