South Pasadena City Council members approved an ordinance last week to give its library director the ability to ban patrons from the library for a period of time when they are not complying with the facility’s code of conduct.
More than 10 years ago, the South Pasadena Library Board of Trustees supported the library code of conduct to provide rules for visitors to help provide an appropriate atmosphere for city staff and those visiting the place. The library code of conduct has been posted around the facility and the city’s website.
A Unique Place
“The library is a unique public facility because it’s where people have access to information and therefore we want to make sure that the library director is on firm ground and is supported by our city attorney when he or she needs to make a determination to limit access to people,” explained South Pasadena City Manager Sergio Gonzalez. “We want to make sure that the library is a welcoming environment and that all patrons have a good experience.”
The code of conduct enables South Pasadena Library Director Steve Fjeldsted or a designee during his absence to ask a visitor to leave as a result of a serious violation. “For safety and enforcement reasons, and when necessary, the police are sometimes called to assist in informing the disruptive library visitor to leave the premises,” explained Gonzalez. “Quite often, the offending library visitor will return the next day or sometime soon thereafter.”
In rare cases, Fjeldsted has been forced to seek a restraining order to prevent dangerous library visitors from returning after they have repeatedly making library code of conduct violations.
“We currently don’t have anything on the books that permits the library director to ban people from the library,” said Gonzalez. “In order to keep someone away for a period of time, we have to go the legal route and that includes obtaining a restraining order which can be very time-consuming.”
He said the ability to ban patrons for serious or repeated infractions of the library code of conduct would enable the library to better maintain an appropriate clean, safe and accommodating environment for the enjoyment of library users.
“Over the years we’ve had instances where people became disruptive,” said Gonzalez. “The ordinance is meant to ensure that all library patrons have a good experience, but also for the safety of city employees as well.”