Friday, November 10, 2006

Barefoot at The Library

j milliken wrote at the Yahoo! Group:

I voted on Tuesday. Then I got kicked out of the building. It was a library.

"Where are your shoes? Do you have any shoes? Come with me."

I was taken to the reference desk. The reference librarian stared alternately at me and into space. Another librarian at the adjacent desk said, quietly, as an aside, "It's not really a rule."

This brought a third librarian bursting out of the back room. "It is too a rule. It exists for health considerations."

I was given a blue card with crimes on one side that are absolutely not allowed in libraries: public sex acts, flashing, molestation, theft.

On the back there was a very long list of unacceptable behaviors. Failure to wear shoes was one. Also, sleeping and bathing in the library, having hygiene so horrible it is a nuisance to others, beating your child so hard you injure it, putting your feet up, etc.

I responded:

I have a good relationship with our small library in my town. I have been going often since my oldest kid was about 3 - that is about 10 years. The library has probably saved us thousands of dollars in books and CD's. The librarians recognize me, some speak to me by name, and one even waves and says hello when I am running and she is out on her daily exercise walk.

I had been going to the library barefoot with no problem for a while, then one day last summer, while picking up some holds, a familiar librarian said to me, "I'm going to have to ask you to start wearing shoes when you come in." When I asked why, she said it was because books could fall off a shelf and land on my foot and injure it. I tried to explain that there were both librarians and patrons wearing flip-flops, and that those would not prevent such injury. Also that there is a near zero probability of a book falling off a shelf in the library because earthquakes are rare in NJ, and asked her if that had that ever actually happened to anyone, shod or not. She then added that an additional reason was that if she let me be barefoot, she would have to let the teenagers come in barefoot in the summer. I asked what was so bad about that, that at least teenagers were coming to the library.... but I let it go at that and said I would bring flip-flops next time. So that is what I do now.

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