By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
But it's been a little lonely this year. There seem to be far fewer coughing wretches sitting around the library--excluding us, obviously. Lucky for us, our solitude has been eased by the addition of classical music piped through speakers mounted outside the library.
Wa-a-a-it a minute. Music. Fewer homeless. We sensed a connection and called Dale McNeill, public service administrator for the Dallas library, to see if it was using classical music as a weapon to drive away the homeless.
Not exactly, McNeill says. The library began playing the music outside about a month ago to make the building more inviting to patrons. If it has the added benefit of keeping down the number of homeless loiterers, well, great, but that wasn't necessarily the intent, he says.
"As someone who goes to the symphony a lot, I don't want to think that classical music drives people away," McNeill says.
Right. For that we would suggest the works of Celine Dion, though that might violate several United Nations conventions on human rights.
In any case, the use of classical music to discourage us layabouts has a precedent locally. In 1997, the McDonald's restaurant at Commerce and Griffin streets started playing light classical Muzak outside to drive away gang members who were hurting the business (see "McFugue, No Cheese," by Thomas Korosec, April 24, 1997).
Whether it's the music or recent initiatives by the city to cut down on homeless loitering, something seems to be working at the library. McNeill says he's heard positive comments from patrons about the library's environment lately. For the record, Buzz never thought the downtown library was particularly unwelcoming. We think it's good to have homeless people around; giving them cigarettes and the occasional dollar can relieve a lot of affluent liberal guilt.
Nevertheless, the library's music plan has an added side benefit. The tunes we heard came from WRR, the city-owned radio station. If a dozen or so homeless listen, we figure that has to double the station's audience.