Kicked Out of the Library

8 03 2014

Last week I went to the Exeter Public Library with a colleague to work on a project for our high school. We needed Internet access, a table to spread our documents out on, an outlet to plug-in our devices, a spot away from the distractions of our school, and a buzzing atmosphere where we would feel inspired to create new ideas for our project. What better place than the local library?

EPL 1

silent library

We arrived to a very still and silent library. Two women behind the main desk looked at us as we walked in and went back to work. Patrons were sitting in chairs reading newspapers. There were some available study carrels in the corners. No group tables near outlets.

We tried the second floor. We were faced with several empty chairs and study carrels and signs that say “no talking.” There was an empty “meeting room” with no table and no chairs. Another meeting room was locked.

epl meeting room

Rules on the locked meeting room door

EPL

empty library

Because it was 10 a.m. we went into the Teen room (which is located directly behind the Reference desk.) The room is empty because it is a Friday and all of the teens in town are in school. We sat at a booth with an outlet and spread out our documents. As soon as we started working we were interrupted by a staff member who said that we are not allowed to work in there because we would intimidate the teens. I jokingly suggested that the fact that we are high school teachers/librarians could gain us access to this empty room. The librarian did not think it was funny and asked us to leave. I asked her for a suggestion of a location where we could work together at a table near an outlet. She said there are outlets all over the walls but could think of no table near an outlet. She recommended we try the second floor and I said that we will need to talk about our project. She reminded us we are not allowed to talk on the second floor.

We packed up and spent the day at Me & Ollie’s cafe where we sat on couches around a coffee table near an outlet surrounded by the buzz of the cafe. A young woman was reading a book next to us. An older man was typing hurriedly on his laptop on the other side. People were having meetings, drinking coffee, and getting business done. We were welcomed by the staff. They made us tea. And we got our work done.

Me & Ollie’s Bakery & Cafe, Exeter NH

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28 responses

8 03 2014
magpielibrarian

I’m a librarian who is appalled at your treatment. I’m sorry this happened to you.

8 03 2014
Michelle

Reblogged this on Geeky Library Girl and commented:
This is how NOT to be a public library today. :/

8 03 2014
AubLibDir

Whoa! Welcome to the 19th Century.

8 03 2014
Dale McNeill

That was never how to be a public library. The library I went to in the 1960s, when I was a child, was way friendlier than that! (I later worked there, and it was equally friendly in the 1980s).

8 03 2014
Susan

I am a librarian. This entry makes me cry.

9 03 2014
peterals

Hi Pam Librarian, I put one of your photos on my “Passive-Agressive Library Unmarketing” Pinterest Pin Board http://www.pinterest.com/peterals/passive-agressive-library-unmarketing/
I hope that was Ok with you, otherwise i’ll remove it.

9 03 2014
pamlibrarian

Wonderful!

9 03 2014
peterals

No hobbits allowed in this library.
No smoking! No eating!! No drinking!!! No bare feet!!!!

9 03 2014
Laura Dorman McLaughlin

I am a school librarian and I agree with the others here when I say your post made me very sad… this is not the intent of libraries and I am so sorry this happened to you. Libraries of all sort should be open to all and encouraging to education and lifelong learning… those librarians should have welcomed you and helped you find a location that would meet your needs. Not that it matters, but I wonder at the age of the librarians who are running this facility?

11 03 2014
Tracey Kripp

I have worked in a library and not only did we welcome people with open arms but we offered up the space after hours to community groups to meet at. They are allowed to move tables to make the space work best for them and we have been very fortunate to be able to reach out to our residents this way. Too bad moving the tables could not have been an option offered.

9 03 2014
Heather Weiner (@ms_librarylady)

I am an Exeter resident and a middle school librarian and have stopped using Exeter Public Library because I find the staff there to be unhelpful and unresponsive. I once requested a book be ordered on travel for cyclists. It had received great reviews in Booklist and Library Journal, and the librarian on duty, called me back to tell me they would not order it because they don’t feel enough residents in Exeter would be interested.

9 03 2014
pamlibrarian

Wow Heather! That is nuts! I hope our fellow Exeter residents agree and this could lead to some sort of change.

9 03 2014
Lindy the librarian

Time to gather your friends for a protest of this misuse of public funding and TAKE BACK THE LIBRARY. The librarians should be re-deployed to the prison system or some basement archive where they can arrange silent boxes of material in alphabetical order away from contact with the public. Rally a march on the building today!!

9 03 2014
Ann

It seems to me that you weren’t kicked out of the library; you were asked to leave the teen area, which is designated for teens only. The teen area is a teen area all the time, not just during school hours. There is such a thing as home schooling after all.

“Intimidate” is a euphemism for “molest”. Not that you would ever do something like that and I’m sure the librarian wasn’t implying that either, but that’s why adults aren’t allowed in the teen room ever, just like adults aren’t allowed to just hang out in the children’s area without being accompanied by a child. Librarians can’t be held responsible for determining who is and who isn’t a creeper, so all adults must go–teacher or not. Sorry.

It does kinda suck that there aren’t any tables near an outlet, though. Your town might want to invest in a little renovation or something.

Sounds like the local cafe did the trick, though. Maybe you should just keep going there.

9 03 2014
pamlibrarian

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree that staff cannot differentiate between perverts and non-perverts based on appearance. The library is sadly empty most days and their inability to accommodate this request seemed ridiculous.
However, when I was asked to leave I was told “I’m going to ask you to leave now.” No pleasant conversation, no offer to help find a table to work at, no apologies for not being able to accommodate our simple request. The woman simply repeated “I’m going to have to ask you to leave now.” It felt very much like being kicked out of the library to me!

10 03 2014
anne

I live in Hampton Falls N.H. and our librarians are welcoming, extremely kind and social to all that enter. Any book or item you need they get it.
We know how lucky we are!!!

10 03 2014
10 03 2014
pamlibrarian

Wow! Great timing!

10 03 2014
mstephens7

Hi Pam – I re-blogged your post at TTW because I have pretty strong feelings about how we welcome people in to our libraries as well as the emotional intelligence of the signage we share. Sorry this happened!

11 03 2014
mstephens7

I posted a request for comment on the library’s Facebook page. It’s gone now. I hope internally they are having some useful discussions about the user experience.

11 03 2014
pamlibrarian

That is interesting. I keep hoping that they will reach out.

11 03 2014
Laura McLaughlin

I was wondering if anyone had formally complained or let the powers that be know what happened…

11 03 2014
Sara Zoe

I had also posted to the library’s Facebook page, both your blog post and the well timed NYT article – also removed, which surprised me given the library doesn’t even have a cover image, I was worried they weren’t paying enough attention.

16 03 2014
mstephens7

Has anyone reached out to the director? I thought about emailing.

16 03 2014
pamlibrarian

Great idea! I’d love to hear her response.

18 03 2014
Laura Dorman McLaughlin

me too!!

30 03 2014
Useful links | Rhondda's Reflections - wandering around the Web

 The way NOT to go! All the things that a library in today’s world should not do.

31 03 2014
What’s Wrong With This Story? | Cheryl Becker

[…] dear.  I have heard the theme of the blog post Kicked Out of the Library (from Pam Librarian) before.  I have to say, I find it […]

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