Library bans are a sad indictment of society

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Of all the places you would think you would be guaranteed a bit of peace and quiet, the local library would be fairly high up the list.

What on earth gets someone so riled up in a library that they feel the need to threaten the staff or other members of the public?

Therefore it comes as something of a surprise to hear that more than 50 people have been banned from libraries across our region.

With so many excluded for using ‘physical violence or threatening, aggressive and abusive behaviour’, it is a sad indictment of a certain element in our society.

Libraries may not be the silent halls of reading they once were, where even the slightest utterance was greeted with a harsh ‘shhh!’

Not everyone loves books, and that’s understood. It is in fact a major part of the reason behind the change in libraries’ roles.

Many are now more akin to community centres than the libraries of yore, running classes, holding exhibitions and bringing in young families for storytime sessions.

They perform a vital function for the areas they serve.

Of course everybody should be able to feel comfortable in their work environment, and be able to carry out their jobs without fear of threats or violence. Patrons should feel safe too.

Surely no-one wants to see security guards at the doors to libraries, as they have had at the Gosport Discovery Centre.

Councillor Keith Chapman, who is in charge of culture matters at the county council, speaks of a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour.

And city library manager Lindy Elliott also says that they ‘don’t hesitate to protect library users and staff.’

While we back these approaches whole-heartedly, the kind of individual who indulges in the sort of behaviour that is likely to get them banned from a library is probably not going to be too upset at their exclusion from such places.

It speaks of a complete lack of respect for society.

Changing such attitudes is the hard part.