Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Continual vexing problems at SPL's Central branch

The Central Library branch of the Sacramento Public Library is attempting to reduce/deflect usage of the branch by homeless people by removing seating for people on its third floor.
Three big tables with chairs were removed from the 3rd floor in this area.
One table was in front of the book file. Another was this side of where
the man in the black hoodie is seated. Another was on the other side of
the newspaper stacks, near to the big window. Many other tables were
removed over the course of the last three months or so, as well.

Anti-homeless policies of the branch has been a topic of dissension in recent weeks.

A fellow named Edward Jefferson was parked at a table in front of the branch for a few days about a month ago collecting information from homeless and other library users about odd treatment they have received from guards and librarians that suggested that these people were not welcomed in the building. Edward sought a meeting with Library Director Rivkah Sass but was turned away.

A brouhaha on November 13th or 14th involved an apparently-homeless woman in the fourth-floor restroom -- who in the judgment of a conventional library user, a woman named Joanne -- was badly mistreated and then humiliated by a guard. Joanne took her complaint about all this to the librarians on the third floor and then spoke with the manager of the branch, a woman named Jessica Jupitor, but nothing has changed as was claimed would happen.  I wrote a couple blogposts on the matter: "A question of civility, neatness and proper SPL policies" and "The Central branch incident: A follow-up report."
All the many carrells along the windows on
the I Street AND 8th Street sides of the
3rd floor were removed. One bullpen librarian
said "more room was needed for people
to pass by." Total horse manure.

The latest thing is the wholesale removal of places to sit on the third floor of the branch, where homeless people -- for good reason -- like to be.  It is on the third floor where people may use computers and feel that they are in-touch with the vast hyper-social online world. Homeless people like and make use of librarys' computers to have a generous fraction of  the fun and other experiences conventional citizens enjoy online
Here, the 8th Street side of the 3rd floor.
Carrels, which are much used, have been
removed to make use of NOTHING. The
branch manager determined that the needed
outlets to charge tech devises along the
walls cannot be utilized -- further making
the floor a desert of wasted space. Where
once citizens, a good many of whom were
homeless, did things to make themselves
happy or to improve their lives, there is
now desecration.

Having seating on the third floor is essential for homeless people such that they can wait for use of a computer and discuss with like-minded friends developments in the world and what new social media and games there are. Too, a man named Mike, the "Homeless Guide" is on the third floor. Ofttimes, there are people waiting to speak with Mike. In the past, there had been a table for those waiting, which is helpful such that people may maintain their "claim" in a queue of those hoping to gain Mike's aid.

The wholesale removal of seating is a rather obvious attempt to disrupt homeless people's use of Central branch. And you have to think, that in the wake of the new Arena, and the construction boom of other buildings for use by the rich and hoity-toity, that upper-management folk at SPL are hoping to significantly change the nature of users of the branch..

Fewer homeless folk with their carts of belonging. More space for matrons to pour over "Madam Bovary" while seated on sofas, drinking apricot daiquiris.

Homeless people also, laudably, make disproportionately high use of newspaper and magazine reading material, all of which is made available on the third floor. The library disallows people from taking these publications to other floors. [Update: I was told, today, that the current policy now allows people to take newspapers and magazines to other floors.]

It is true that homeless people often come to library branches when their prime desire is to be more-comfortable during inclement weather. But when they come to a library for that purpose, they are likely to make use of reading material and computers which will benefit their lives.

Sacramento Public Library Director Rivkah Sass and Central branch manager Jessica Jupitor make changes to the branch without input from users, and are, thus, the cause of problems and discord. They make the placement of furniture their top priority, rather than the needs and desires of library users.

This from the publication "The Southeastern Librarian" is something I certainly believe to be true:
Public libraries offer new worlds to the poor by providing information in a wide variety of different forms on every subject imaginable. The information is an opportunity which opens the door to other opportunities and can change or save lives. Librarians, as keepers of the keys of knowledge, have an obligation to spread information like a balm over those scarred by poverty.
The knowledge contained in public libraries can heal the poor in body, mind, and spirit. The information contained in public libraries can empower and enable the poor to change their lives.

5 Comments:

Blogger Steve said...

I'm very saddened by this. We now have a new mayor who, as I understand it, has pledged to make helping the homeless a high priority of his administration. Perhaps eloquent members of the homeless community could appeal to him to "put in a word" for the homeless community to the library administrators. Certainly everything should be done to make the library as welcoming as practicable to all members of the Sacramento community looking to enjoy and benefit from the treasure trove of resources available there and to, in some cases, merely "seek shelter from the storm."

December 14, 2016 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger Thomas Armstrong said...

Thanks mightily for your good words of support, Brother Steve.

December 14, 2016 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Frank L. Topping said...

Tom,

In case we'd like to mention to City Council can we quote you & use pics? I might be able to make a cc mtg soon.

Thx -frank

December 16, 2016 at 1:43 AM  
Blogger Thomas Armstrong said...

That would be great, Frank. Feel free to use whatever you like. I would appreciate whatever you can do.

December 16, 2016 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger Real Clear Metrics Sacramento SEO said...

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December 19, 2016 at 4:47 PM  

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