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Proposed Rules Would Ban Sleeping in Library

By Martin Weil and Elissa Silverman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, December 29, 2008

New rules have been proposed for D.C. public libraries, including a ban on sleeping and a limit on bringing in bags, in what library officials called an effort to make the system more welcoming.

But Mary Ann Luby, an advocate for the homeless, said the bag and sleeping rules "are going to be hard on people."

Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper said she expected the new rules to take effect Feb. 1 at the Martin Luther King Jr. library downtown and at the system's branches.

"Everyone is still welcome," she said, adding that she expected the homeless to use the libraries and hoped "lots of other people do, too."

Cooper has been credited with helping to bring office workers and other readers and researchers to the King library, on G Street NW.

But usage could still be increased, she said, and to help enhance the allure of the Mies van der Rohe building, the X-ray machine at the entrance will be eliminated.

Cooper said a two-bag limit would help create a more secure and welcoming environment. She added that sleeping, generally, "isn't an activity we encourage."

Library use as temporary shelter was not ideal, said Luby, who works with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. Preferable, she said, would be a downtown service center.

She said a previous sleeping rule had not been enforced. The new rules provide temporary bans from the library for repeated infractions.

The rules were published in the Dec. 19 D.C. Register, which said written comments could be submitted for a month.

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