Wilmington Public Library visitors may no longer carry in items like blankets, garbage bags, wheeled carts and luggage.
Some visitors to the library say they believe the new rules target people experiencing homelessness. Jaleesa Booker, a frequent library patron, said that as some shelters in the city have closed down, more people are using the library for shelter and services. She doesn’t think the new rules are fair.
“I could understand [problems with] big baggage because of crime, but if the [library patrons] look homeless, it’s probably just their stuff,” Booker said. “They need somewhere to go to get out of the cold. As long as nobody’s harming anybody, I don’t see anything wrong with them bringing their blankets and that — it’s probably all they have.”
However, library director Jamar Rahming said the policy change is intended to decrease environmental and health concerns, increase safety, create a more user-friendly environment, and prevent theft.
He said he cannot respond to concerns about people experiencing homelessness because the library does not “profile library users and has no idea which users are homeless or not.”
“We serve all people without prejudice,” Rahming added.
An independent board sets policies for the library. Across Delaware, libraries do not have specific policies around this issue.
Some library users say they are pleased with the change, for safety and hygiene reasons. They say the new rules will ensure a better library experience.
Jeffrey Kurtz is among the librarygoers who believe increased rules are necessary for a peaceful experience.
“When I’ve been here on Saturdays, I’ve seen food spread on the tables upstairs. When there’s no security in here, some people don’t know how to act. It gets out of hand, they take advantage,” he said. “Some of the people have regular homes that are doing that.”