Honest Question: Who Is Behind the Sleeping Gestapo at Public Libraries?

As a student at the CSU and UC, the place I spent a good deal of time at has been a central library.  At a central library, I'm not always studying, in fact a lot of the time I'm inactive, trying to recover. Part of my recovery routine has been to nap for a few minutes, usually from 5-20.  I've taken plenty of these. 

No one at the University Library has ever bugged me.  EVER.

In fact, sleeping had been somewhat institutionalized at UCLA and CSULB.  At UCLA's Powell Library on the 2nd floor, they have padded leather benches upon which students sleep on.  Inside their quiet 24-hour study room they have a few couches which students use to stretch their legs and take a nap on. 

In the two weeks before and during finals, CSULB stays open 24-hours.  Students are regularly in their pajamas, stick their heads down, pull together small couches to make themselves as comfortable as possible for nappy time.

Meanwhile, at a public library in Long Beach a few weeks ago, MacArthur Park, such wasn't the case.  I was dressed in sweats and a T-shirt. I tucked away my belongings, made sure my hands were firmly grasping onto my $1,500 laptop.  I wrapped a strap of  my red bookbag around my left leg. 

I put my head down and embarked on my siesta. 

A couple minutes later, a library staffwoman, tapped me and asked me if I'm OK.

"Yes, I am, and would be even better if you didn't wake me up," I thought to myself.

Clearly, this little library is not like any of the cushy University Libraries I've been to, where sleeping is an innocent, innocuous, almost essential activity.  In this library, the library staffwoman made sure that I wouldn't even bat an eye.  She intimated politely, but I still thought it somewhat rude.  LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE.

This library is medium-sized;  it's a branch library located in what used to be considered a "bad park." There are lots of homeless folk, special needs groups, old veterans, younger people so perhaps the policy of waking up those who appear to be sleeping is aimed at "them."

I don't know if it is just a branch-specific or city-wide policy, but I'd seen an even more draconian version of this enforcement at Central Public Library in Los Angeles.  Security guards in uniform will walk around explicitly warning mostly homeless persons that they are not allowed to sleep.  It's like a Sleeping Gestapo.

Central Public Library in Los Angeles has a reputation for being a homeless person magnet. 

Freakin' homeless people, how dare they use the only free public space available to carry out their basic life functions!

What bugs me is this criminalization of an activity that we all kinda have to do and doesn't really bug anyone, except those who let it bug them.  Unless someone is snoring, making noise, I don't see why sleeping has to be stopped.

It reminds me of a speech the Wire character Bunny Colvin gave. The public space is the "poor man's living room" or something to that effect.  Seems to be just another subtle way we war against the non-monied.

Some people don't have other choices, why don't public libraries, including ones in Newport, get that?  An honest question. 

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