I immediately get up and come around the desk, immediately on high alert, thinking, call security, call 911. "What's going on?"
She leads me to the offending man: "He is sleeping! In the library!"
I relax. Me: "That's all right. That's not against our code of conduct."
We reach the man. He is asleep. That is all.
Mean customer: "You allow this? You allow a homeless person to sleep in the library? That's disgusting!"
Me: "As long as he's not bothering anyone or breaking any rules..."
MC: "Libraries are for studying! Or relaxing with a book! Not for sleeping!"
Me: "Libraries are for many things. Different people use the library for different reasons."
MC: "No! No! That's disgusting! In Canada! A man sleeping in the library! I never thought I would see such a thing!"
She holds up her tablet, pushes it at me. I take a step back.
MC: "Show me! Show me where it says it is allowed to sleep in a library!"
Me: "We don't have a list of things you are allowed to do in the library. We have a list of things you're not allowed to do. And sleeping isn't on the list. As long as he's not bothering anyone--"
MC: "He's bothering me! It's disgusting!"
Me: "This is a big library. Perhaps you can find somewhere to sit where you won't see him. Would you like me to help you find a good spot?"
She continues to rant: place for relaxing, disgusting, in Canada, and finally asks for the name of the manager.
I get business cards and write down names and extensions.
MC: "So if I come to the library and I fall asleep, this is perfectly all right with you?"
Me: "Yes, of course."
MC: "So this is a shelter? People sleep here all night?"
Me: "No. We close at 9:00 pm and we ask everyone to leave at that time." That's it for me. This has gone on long enough. "Is there anything else I can help you with?"
She stomps off.
What a compassionate soul.
I email the various managers, knowing they will all have the same reaction that I did. I thought, I made a good career choice. The day a person who may have nowhere else to go can't sleep in the public library would be the beginning of the end of librarianship for me.
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