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Ponnada: Sleepers beware

BY SRI PONNADA | JANUARY 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Board of Trustees at Iowa City Public Library is now considering changing the library’s policy to prohibit sleeping after receiving numerous complaints from patrons.

Although I did have great adventures during my sleep in my high-school library, I’m afraid I have crossed over to the other side. The proposed ban should be passed.

Kara Logsdon, the library’s community and access services coordinator, said this is not a new issue. It’s just been brought up again because many people say it affects their comfort at the library.

In 2001, during a regular policy review, staff recommendations included banning sleeping in the library, but the board chose not to change the policy at that time.

“We had a number of meetings to figure out what to do,” Logsdon said. “We keep coming back to: What is the purpose of the library?”

According to library board’s literature, the purpose of the conduct policy is “to maintain a safe and pleasant environment for all library patrons.”

It also states that patrons have the responsibility to use the library in a manner that doesn’t interfere with other individuals’ rights to use library materials, resources and services.

But how do you feel about sitting down to enjoy a novel or write a paper when there’s someone snoring next to you?

“Sleeping is a very private thing to do,” Logsdon said. “When someone is sleeping, they are changing the atmosphere of the library, and often [other] people change their behavior.”

Some people are concerned that the ban is targeted at homeless people. The homeless aren’t the only ones sleeping at the library, though. Logsdon emphasized that should the ban be enforced, it will be done so uniformly.

In fact, a survey of large, urban libraries in Iowa shows that five of the seven libraries that responded ban sleeping.

Logsdon fears, though, that the ban, if enforced, might create the perception that the library is not a welcoming place.

“We are very committed to our community,” she said. “The people who work here are very compassionate and caring, and we just want to do the right thing for the entire community.”

It might seem nearly impossible to keep your eyes open sitting in a comfy couch in the midst of rows of, well, books. However, beware — you may find yourself being hexed by a vengeful voracious reader while you doze off.

After all, the library is a public place, not your bedroom.


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