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No sleeping, stinking at Schaumburg Township library
By Eric Peterson | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/18/2009 5:43 PM

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Intending to keep the Schaumburg Township District Library and its branches from being awkward or difficult places to visit, officials are addressing the problem of patrons who smell bad or go there to sleep.

The library has not had a serious problem with homeless patrons, nor do the two new policies specifically target the homeless, senior Trustee Robert Lyons said.

"Libraries that are within walking distance of a train station tend to have more of a problem with that," he added.

Rather, the policy changes were triggered by recent, isolated incidents, he said.

This week, the library board approved a policy to address odor problems among patrons and plans to finalize a policy against sleeping in the library at the April board meeting.

The library intends to be considerate and nonconfrontational toward those in violation of its patron conduct policies, said Stephanie Sarnoff, the new library director.

The policies are intended to be applied only in situations where other patrons or staff are made uncomfortable about using the library, she added.

Under the approved odor policy, patrons would be approached gently, out of earshot of others, made aware of the issue and asked to correct it before their next visit.

It would require multiple visits with no clear intention to correct the problem before a patron would be banned from the library, Sarnoff said.

The problem of odor isn't necessarily confined to poor hygiene, but could be caused by a number of other issues including overly strong perfume, she added.

Likewise, the sleeping policy isn't aimed at those who fall asleep accidentally while reading a book but for those who either appear to be sleeping intentionally or doing so in a way that interferes with others' enjoyment of the library, Sarnoff said.

In such cases, a staff member would try to speak to the sleeping patron and ask him or her to refrain from doing so on library property. Under no circumstances are staff members ever to touch patrons, even to try to wake them up, she said.

Besides the central library in Schaumburg, the district operates branches in Hoffman Estates and Hanover Park.