Saturday, March 18, 2017


With the final banning and expulsion of Smellyman, a patron who plagued us for half a decade with hygiene shortcomings that approached an apocalyptic level, we were able to elevate our Library Enemy Number Two up to Library Enemy Number One. And so Obsessive-Compulsive-Man is now everyone's least favorite patron. Whether it's his dozen shopping bags of near garbage reserving large swaths of territory for him at all times, or his noisy eating or activities, or his endless use of hand sanitizer, or his late evening, after closing departures, or his plastic bagged feet, or his attempt to get other people to open all doors for him, or his intransigence in relation to requests that he abide by any of our meager standards that singles him out as our most problematic patron, he now no longer faces any real competition for the role.

Perhaps to celebrate his new position he adopted a new behavior. Not content with his two to four chairs in the fiction area, he has discovered our hugely popular study rooms. I can only imagine the moment of almost religious epiphany he must have experienced when he realized that by arriving at opening he could safely squat what amounts to a small hotel room for eleven hours a day. I think the only impediment for him must have been how to open the door without touching it. No one knows how he worked that one out, but somehow he did, because there he is every day now, in the corner room by the magazine area. Mostly he sleeps in there, causing us to speculate on his homelessness or what he might do during the nights. Patrons have complained already, perhaps sensing that a library shouldn't be a homeless shelter or a discount hotel, or perhaps merely irked that the room is now permanently unavailable to them.

To most of the staff's disappointment we will be pursuing the same Minnesota-so-we-hate-making-a-fuss approach to this person that we used on the previous Library Enemy Number One. It worked last time. Just let the person slowly unravel and in five years they'll be dead, or have killed someone, or be so hideous it will be a police matter. We do have a four hour limit on the room usage, but the current managerial climate suggests no one will ever enforce that. I can't see anyone getting much support for wading into that kind of mess.

At first I was bitterly disappointed at all these developments, but survival around here requires much adaptation and a healthy dose of attitude adjustment. So I have recently come to believe that these study rooms are the perfect places for problem patrons. Let's just put them in the glass boxes for the day and forget about them. The boxes are surprisingly air and soundproofed. I'll think of them more as sequestered storage devices. And until they're all filled up I'll try to enjoy our more peaceful library.

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