Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | December 9, 2013

Attacks chairs and urinating patrons: the San Francisco Public Library

Apparently it’s a blood sport patronizing the Main Library in San Francisco.  That doesn’t stop local reporters from employing ellipsis and euphemism to describe conditions there:

San Francisco is hoping to start a new chapter in the Main Library’s troubled story as it ramps up investment in custodian and security personnel following a string of complaints and unsavory incidents that renewed the focus on patron behavior.

The institution has been marred by violence, drug use, sleeping patrons and deplorable bathrooms. In September, a 61-year-old man suffered bloody wounds when he was struck by a chair while using a library computer. In August, complaints over bathroom conditions escalated to the point where City Librarian Luis Herrera began to monitor them himself. And the number of patrons found sleeping, which is a violation of library rules, grew by 80 percent to 1,065 incidents last year.

Just hate it when the chairs start attacking people.  It sounds like library “patrons” have changed somewhat since my day.  (I actually had a day: I worked part time for the public library system in Tulsa, Oklahoma throughout my college years.)

When chairs attack. (Photo courtesy San Francisco Main Library and The San Francisco Examiner)

When chairs attack. (Photo courtesy San Francisco Main Library and The San Francisco Examiner)


A little spade work unearthed the story of the attack chair.  It turns out that it was a 25-year-old man named Clifton W. Moore who struck the computer user.  Mr. Moore, presumably a library patron, used a chair as his weapon of choice. 

In October, another patron was arrested for urinating on several rows of library books as well as on the floor.  Perhaps Mr. Aton Cole was as dissatisfied as the City Librarian is with the condition of the library’s public restrooms.  He may have done this more than once:

The library’s staff inspected all the sullied materials and determined the extent of the damage, said Michelle Jeffers, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Public Library system.

“We will have to determine whether the books can be cleaned or reused or will need to be replaced,” Jeffers said Friday.

A library employee who wished to remain anonymous believes Cole might have urinated on books on multiple occasions.

“For a few months now, we have been finding whole shelves of books on the third floor covered with an unidentified sticky substance,” the employee wrote in an email to The San Francisco Examiner.

Not to worry, however:

Librarians are trained on how to handle materials such as urine, [Jeffers] said.

“There’s a whole protocol” that includes wearing gloves and using hand sanitizers before and after cleaning, Jeffers said.

Old-school patrons of the library system might want to consider adopting some protocols of their own.


They have protocols for this. (Photo courtesy San Francisco Main Library and The San Francisco Examiner)

They have protocols for this. (Photo courtesy San Francisco Main Library and The San Francisco Examiner)

The library’s excellent urine-readiness notwithstanding, there is a perceived need for fewer of these obtrusive manifestations from patrons.  The library plans to spend more on security and custodial support.  The additional security personnel will be strengthening the crackdown that started in 2007, when the library “banned sex, indecent exposure and drug use in its user guidelines to be able to suspend library privileges for such behavior.”  You won’t be surprised to learn that there are some patrons who actually object to such rules.

No modern program for security enhancement would be complete without the following:

New software is being piloted to better analyze and report public safety incidents. Currently, security personnel simply record incidents manually.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.

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  1. “A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A [widespread societal] loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot…” R.A. Heinlein

    “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” was written by English historian Edward Gibbon, commonly thought to be the first modern historian of Ancient Rome and published in six volumes from 1776, to 1789.

    Gibbon said that the following five attributes marked Rome at its end:

    1) a mounting love of show and luxury (that is, the worship of affluence);
    2) a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor
    3) an obsession with sex;
    4) freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, & mere enthusiasms presented as creativity; (Lady Gaga, most TV and movies?)
    5) an increased desire to live off the state…

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