Most people live by a certain moral code. They don’t need a sign that says, DON’T MURDER THE GUY STANDING NEXT TO YOU because that would break that code. Such codes don’t exist at the Public Library. If there is not something in writing that says, DO NOT VERBALLY OR PHYSICALLY ABUSE THE GUY ON THE COMPUTER NEXT TO YOU then many library users will assume that it is perfectly acceptable behavior within the confines of the library.
It’s common in the library for me to approach a person doing something that most human beings would consider inappropriate library behavior (such as spitting sunflower seeds on the floor) and ask them to stop. The response is frequently not “Okay, sorry,” but rather, “Where does it say that?” It is for this reason that the rules of conduct at most public libraries around the country are some of the strangest rules you’ll ever see.
Below, I have posted some of the stranger rules from libraries around the country. A person not familiar with the modern public library, might think they are a joke, but they are not—when it comes to rules, librarians have no humor; indeed, I have personally dealt with all of these violations at least once.
Seattle Public Library
• NO CAMPING ON LIBRARY GROUNDS.
• NO USING RESTROOMS FOR BATHING OR SHAMPOOING, DOING LAUNDRY, OR CHANGING CLOTHES.
Schiller Park Public Library
Examples of minor disruption:
NO OPERATING WHEELED VEHICLES OR USING ANY WHEELED FOOTWEAR INSIDE THE BUILDING, I.E., BICYCLES, TRICYCLES, ROLLER BLADES, ROLLER SKATES, SKATEBOARDS, ETC., EXCEPT WHERE SUCH USE IS TO AFFORD A DISABLED PERSON ACCESS TO THE LIBRARY.
Fremont Public Library
NO BRINGING FIREARMS, CONCEALED HANDGUNS AND/OR OTHER DEADLY WEAPONS INTO THE LIBRARY.
Los Angeles Public Library
NO SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, SUCH AS EXPOSURE OR THREATENING TOUCHING.
South Pasadena Public Library
NO ILLEGAL BEHAVIOR OF ANY TYPE.
Dallas Public Library
NO STALKING OTHER CUSTOMERS OR STAFF, INCLUDING LOOKING INTO AN AREA, SUCH AS A RESTROOM, THAT IS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE PRIVACY TO A PERSON USING THE AREA.
Santa Monica Public Library
NO USING THE LIBRARY IF YOUR BODILY HYGIENE IS OFFENSIVE SO AS TO CONSTITUTE A NUISANCE TO OTHERS.
Warren-Trumbull County Public Library
NO ONGOING USE OF LIBRARY AS PLACE OF COMMERCIAL BUSINESS.
Middletown Public Library
NO BEING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL/ILLEGAL DRUGS, AND SELLING, USING, OR POSSESSING ALCOHOL/ILLEGAL DRUGS.
Jersey City Free Public Library
NO FIGHTING, HARASSING, OR THREATENING PATRONS OR STAFF.
Miami-Dade Public Library
NO LEAVING INDIVIDUALS REQUIRING CARE UNATTENDED FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME OR AT CLOSING.
Waukesha Public Library
NO PROLONGED OR CHRONIC SLEEPING.
West Florida Public Library
INDECENT EXPOSURE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO HAVING SEX AND/OR EXHIBITING LEWD AND OFFENSIVE NAKEDNESS, IS PROHIBITED.
Central Arkansas Library System
CLOTHING MUST BE ZIPPED, BUTTONED, OR FASTENED TO AVOID INDECENT EXPOSURE.