Your Library

For the people: As a faithful reader of the Dallas Observer, I appreciate your ability to write what The Dallas Only News won't; however, "Make Yourself At Home," by Charles Siderius (July 26), disappointed me. Apparently the J. Erik Jonsson Library that he visited was not the same one I have frequented since its opening. The article's subhead suggested that one should visit the library, but don't take the kids. I'm glad I never heard this warning, otherwise my children would have missed out on story times, puppet shows, educational classes, crafts, the summer reading program and poetry competition. I'm also thankful that public and private school districts from throughout North Texas did not hear this warning, since I see busloads of children visiting the library every day throughout the school year for tours and to develop research skills. When I visit the Dallas Public Library, I do see some people I suspect are homeless, but I also see businessmen and women doing Internet research or checking out an audio book for their commute. I see families purchasing items in the bookstore. I see tourists from all over the world viewing the Declaration of Independence and Shakespeare Folio. I see professional writers doing research. I see genealogists spending hours searching their ancestry. One other thing I see that Mr. Siderius obviously did not was the dedicated library staff eager to assist everyone regardless of their financial means. I guess when I visit the Dallas Central Library I see something Mr. Siderius did not, a PUBLIC library.

Mary Beth Harrington

Piss on you: The homeless have nowhere to go, no Internet access and not a single place to pass the time in this terrible heat? Oh gosh, I'm so sorry! Those of us who work our asses off to provide for ourselves and our children and can't afford to go anywhere, don't even own a computer and would love to have the luxury of having just one day off to enjoy the summer sun say, "Piss on you." I have zero sympathy. There is one reason why people are homeless: They have no one to turn to. There are three reasons why they no longer have anyone to turn to: drugs, alcohol and mental illness. Exceptions do exist, like your Little Miss Silk from the article, but come on, you're telling me that after two years of college she didn't have one friend that would let her crash on their couch when her "funding" fell through? I find that hard to believe.

The bottom line is that the city cannot be the support system for these people. They need to be rehabilitated, not accommodated. I'm tired of them taking over every public building and every sidewalk and begging for money everywhere I turn. There are facilities in town for people who need it--for example, battered women and children--but these places do not tolerate alcohol, drug use or bad behavior. So those people are kicked out--and they go to the library. Well, you know what? I want to go to the library with my child. My friends want to go to the library with their children. But that is out of the question--no reference books for us, no finding out if we can get a grant to start a business, no using the library for what it's there for. It's not a safe environment for us or for our children.

This is a problem the city needs to address; its citizens agree, and apparently its employees do as well. So what about not letting people into the library without a card? You need a driver's license or a bill with your name on it to establish residency in order to get one. That sounds logical, doesn't it? Better yet, take that 3 million, build a facility in the country outside of town and bus them out there. If they don't want to go to a place that can help them dry out, clean up and learn, then put them on a bus to somewhere else. This may sound harsh, but it sounds like their behavior is pretty harsh. The city cannot allow the homeless to have more rights than the rest of us simply because they are homeless.

Name withheld

Another city, same story: Excellent, excellent reporting! This article was e-mailed to all staff at our central branch. Replace the word Dallas with Sacramento, and this story fits us to a T. As awful as it is to have to listen to constant complaints from patrons who say they won't ever come back down to our branch, it's even worse to imagine what our homeless would do--where they would go--if the library weren't there. Our city is still denying that there is a homeless problem downtown and probably will continue to do so. It's sad for them, sad for us. What's really bad is when the homeless follow you to the bus stop and expect you to be as cordial to them on the street as we are required to be in the library. If they ask for money or something and you turn them down, you always have to wonder if they are going to come into the library the next day and go off on you--they do know where and when we work. Your story was right on target, and I truly hope it opens some eyes here. Thank you.

B. Hempleman

Mean streets: After reading your article on the homeless situation at the Dallas Public Library, I am appalled at the insinuations and once-upon-a-blue-moon stories in connection with the homeless population. Like this one: "...using the library's public restrooms for things other than what they were intended. One time, she says, she walked in on a woman stark naked at a sink--not an uncommon sight." If she saw it one time, how is it that it's "not an uncommon sight"? I came to Dallas two years ago hoping to find a better job and go on with my life. I have never been treated as inhumanly as I have been here just because I have no money and don't want to draw a disability check! Please help those of us out here who ARE homeless but looking for a better way to live. I am a paralegal by trade but lost all to a bad divorce, etc. etc. I am sure no one is interested in helping me after reading your slanderous article. I guess I should just try suicide. I believe you all would throw a party--one less of us to take up space in Laura Miller's world. I wonder how Ms. Miller's hairdo would hold up if she had to spend over 12 hours on the street in the summer in Dallas. I hate Dallas.

Dawn McDaniel