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Librarians to Patrons: Shhhower!

Have any of you Bay Area readers ever been to the Berkeley Public Library? It's a beautiful historical building, but some days has an acquired smell that can't exactly be attributed to old books.

Well, Schaumburg Township District Library in Illinois has now added "offensive bodily odors" to the forbidden list, which already includes talking, running, and beverages! The library says it will kick people out if their stenches disrupt others' use of the facility.

While a pleasant smell would make for a more enjoyable library visit, you could argue that the ban discriminates against poor people. If people don't have access to showers, I'd bet that they don't have access to a computer either. . . unless they can go to the library.


Join The Conversation
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
It doesnt make perfect sense for me, as a patron of the library and a taxpayer to have to put up with the smells the safety issues and the constant replacing of equipment at the libraries because the homeless need a place to go.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 8 years
So true! This guy used to come to the library and he smelled awful. The stench would hang in the air for at least an hour after he left. It was a shame too because he had a medical condition (he would literally fall asleep after being on a computer 5 minutes) and everybody would be too polite to say anything. This rule would just make things so awkward.
stephley stephley 8 years
Whole families used to hang in the Borders where I used to work - it felt awful to send them out when we closed at night. I understand Janneth's point of view, but it makes perfect sense for homeless people to try to find somewhere to be safe and calm for at least part of the day.
Symphonee Symphonee 8 years
I was one of those homeless people hanging around the library all day. I found my current job that way and I was finally able to move. Saying that, I was lucky enough to be able to shower at my shelter. I know of many in Baltimore city that do not allow the people staying there to do so, mostly all male shelters. I am actually all for it. It bothered me when I was homeless. I just wish that there were more alternative places for the homeless to shower at. I like Hypno's ideas close up a pool to the public for an hour or two and let them clean up their funk.
janneth janneth 8 years
Libraries are not homeless shelters or daycare centers, folks. You can't hang around a public hospital or a police station or county records department or the DMV or the courts unless you have business there. Libraries have been dumped on for too long because librarians are too "nice" and they allow it to happen. They are just hurting libraries.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
stephley stephley 8 years
Geez, just how miserably smelly is Northern California? We're down wind of you! :faint:
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
Schaumburg Township, mmm, I can so believe it was this place.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
People say the cow smell is there year round, but I only really smell it in the summertime. :shrug: Guess I'm just used to it!
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
"My remedy to the matter is Berkeley's public swimming pools" Hypno....UGH I went to Willard Jr High in Berkeley on Telegraph Ave too and our school swimming pool ( the one we used for gym classes) was also a public swimming pool and lets just say people off the street used the shower area all the time. SOOOOO not cool for the students to shower there I got a note from my doctor just so I could sit out of swimming in that skeevy pool/showing in the gross locker room!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Fish smell doesn't bother me too much (unless is rotting fish smell) but fresh fish smell is good. I was on a boat every weekend fishing and cleaning the fish growing up.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
I visit Guerneville often. Love visiting the coast there and the wineries always a good time.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
:rotfl: Ahhhh the Tenderloin. Now THAT'S a smelly place! I really shouldn't talk. Up here we have two distinct smells. When the tide is out it smells like stinky fish. In the summertime it smells like cow manure from all of the farms nearby. Gotta love the Sonoma Aroma!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Hey I walk through the Tenderloin often enough I know what smell is honey, LOL! dm8bri I totally agree about fragrances. I have never sprayed on cologne and I hate being on a bus or train with a lethal cocktail of scented deodorant, channel No 5 and Old Spice, gag me with a spoon please.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
I live in Sonoma County. :P You're just used to the smell!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Alright where do you two live or have traveled in Berkeley that it just smells in general...LOL. I've lived here for five years and I've come to learn that if you can capture a smell edge wise that's not being blown away by the ocean breeze whipping off of the Bay that it's usually the smell of flowers and tree's. Now if you're walking through the University & Shattuck area than yeah you might catch a whiff of urine drying on the corner of a building but those few square blocks are in the urban center where one would expect to encounter such smells.
dm8bri dm8bri 8 years
I think this is a problem you will run into at any metropolitan library. I can't blame homeless/earthy/pro-microbe people for wanting/needing library access, and I can't blame well-showered people around them for not wanting to wear a noseplug while they peruse the classics. I agree w/ bastyle that offensive body odors should include strong cologne and perfume - that stuff gives me a major headache! Good luck to those who have to enforce these rules!
Myst Myst 8 years
I'm more concerned about people who chooses not to bathe. That's just nasty.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
"Berkeley smells, period. It ain't just the library." Ain't that the truth! :)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Oh boy I see we've opened the door for pot shots at Berkeley, lol. I live here as well and yes there is a homeless issue just as in most urban centers. Berkeley's residents have money and the homeless go where the money and services are. Pretty simple equation, so the same critisism could be attributed to a few hundred other cities across the country. I pass the library in question quite often however I've never been in or any other library for that matter in over fifteen years. My friend John is a librarian in San Bruno Ca. and interviewed for a management position at Berkeley. He was offered the job but declined because of the homeless issue. My remedy to the matter is Berkeley's public swimming pools. No not a day of fun and sun but rather a shower. C'mon what can they do to harm a cement floor brick mortar walls and steal plumbing fixtures not a damn thing. Open the facilaties a couple days a week to the homeless so they can bath and pick up new donated clothing simple as that. They could even make the showers coin operated .25 for 10min.
T-S T-S 8 years
Berkeley smells, period. It ain't just the library.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
I hope the next time I"m visiting my aunt in Evanston, and I go to the Schaumburg Township District Library that when there is a man in the library with too much colonge on or a lady in cheap perfume that they get kicked out for disturbing me and this isn't just to get homeless people out the library!
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
I'm on the fence on this one, because where I don't want to be offended by the stench, A library really is no different then a sidewalk, it belongs to everyone. :shrug:
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
I swear I didn't want to laugh but I did....I from/currently live in the Bay Area and went to Berkeley High ( 1 block from the Libary) and I fully understand the "smell" issue but that's all over Berkeley. There is a huge problem with homelessness in Berkeley and the Library is public therefore so are the bathrooms etc. And it's not just the homeless there's still a lot of "free love" not shaving underarm type behavior that happens too ahahaha! SERIOUSLY I think it's going to be a difficult law to enforce and may cause more trouble than good...... because smell is in the nose of the beholder. Also smell is very cultural some things that render no reaction to some render a huge reaction to others.
stephley stephley 8 years
Yeah, it'll be interesting to see how librarians handle well to do people who maybe bike everywhere and think we should all enjoy their earthy, I'm greener than you, scent. At least the homeless have an excuse.
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