SC libraries may get tough

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 8:07 AM
Last updated 6:40 PM
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COLUMBIA — South Carolina librarians could be doubling as bouncers.

Lawmakers are moving forward with an effort to create a tougher legal environment for unwelcome library visitors. On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 19-0 to advance S. 813, which says someone who refuses to leave a public library after previously being warned is guilty of a misdemeanor.

“I’m very concerned about the safety and the operation of our public library system,” said Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston.

“Having said that, I’m also concerned that the public has the right to use to library.”

An amendment by the freshman lawmaker would reserve authority for the library director, the branch manager, and acting branch manger.

“What’s different from the original bill is we’re not any longer allowing the rank-and-file employee to kick the person out,” said Kimpson.

Lawmakers struggled with finding a harmony between existing trespassing law and new protections for library staff, who sometimes encounter inappropriate touching, comments and behavior from members of the public. Another complaint aired by librarians: The practice of library patrons photographing them with their phones.

The bill cleared the committee Tuesday amid concerns that people would be ejected from libraries for looking different.

Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, raised the possibility of “some guy in there with a skinhead sort of like mine, or dreadlocks or something, and all of a sudden they look out of place.”

He added: “It makes people uncomfortable, and all of a sudden, they’ve got to leave just because they’re not at the same country club I’m at or at the same lunch diner I’m at.” 

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corgimom 04/02/14 - 10:10 am
I used to go to the Columbia

I used to go to the Columbia SC often. Nobody cared if somebody was a skinhead or had dreadlocks. They did not look out of place.

However, people cared a lot about people with obvious behavioral issues, or homeless that were using the library as a crash pad.

Senator Malloy has problems if he thinks that people are asked to leave libraries because someone has dreadlocks.

Riverman1 04/02/14 - 10:37 am
Courts Have Ruled On This

Wasn't there a Federal Court ruling about the foul smelling people staying in libraries all day? One of them was awarded damages for being kicked out. Another reason to have only online libraries.

From the NY Times 1991: "A Federal judge ruled today that public libraries cannot bar homeless people because their presence, their staring or their hygiene annoys or offends other library patrons."

corgimom 04/02/14 - 02:47 pm
Riverman, they aren't allowed

Riverman, they aren't allowed to sleep in libraries, that's grounds to kick them out.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 04/02/14 - 05:06 pm

From the story:

Another complaint aired by librarians: The practice of library patrons photographing them with their phones.

Too bad, librarians. If you are in a public place, you are subject to being photographed. Just learn to ignore it. If you can't ignore it, just tolerate it.

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