|Please, sir. I can haz Internetz?|
The Bethlehem Public Library of Bethlehem, PA has had to revise their policies that allegedly targeted their transient (i.e. homeless) population. The library administration feels the transients have begun to drive away regular patron use. Local transient advocates feel that the rules, including rules regarding sleeping, having sleeping bags, and having offensive body odor, target the transients the advocates bus to the library and drop off.
There are many ways to be banned from a library. Simply being homeless is not one of them. A public library is just that, public. My heart goes out to anyone in this economy that has lost a roof over their head. The library is a community place where many often spend all day honestly doing nothing and that is okay. Whether or not the Bethlehem Public Library went too far and far too specific with their "policies" and should have just handled each incident as it came up is not for me to say. *cough*
The problem with this is not the homeless themselves. I have a problem with the people that treat adults like children. Picking anyone up and dropping them off at a public location to spend the day without supervision is the act of a negligent parent, not community outreach. This is like dropping adults off at the playground and getting pissed when they cannot get on the swings.
The library is a community institution. It is not a day care for anyone. It is not a daylight motel. If other patrons complain about another patron's smell, activities, or general behavior, the library must attend to them. If you have taken the responsibilty of getting a person of any age from point A to B, then you should also make sure they are bathed, well rested and do not have to carry their whole lives on their backs.
And for God sakes, if your town is named "Bethlehem," don't get into trouble that lends itself to so many easy jokes I can't pick just one.