When a Warrenton man showed up at the Astoria Library in February to protest a Drag Queen Story Hour, he had his phone out.
His plan was to provide a running commentary, broadcasting a livestream to his social media followers. His camera, though focused primarily on his own face, turned sometimes to capture the people attending the reading, including parents and their young children.
Jimmy Pearson, the library director, couldn’t do much about filming outside the library, but he drew the line when it came to filming and photographing people inside.
“I take library privacy very seriously,” Pearson said ahead of a Monday night City Council meeting, where he presented an updated set of the library’s standards of conduct.
“Parents have the right to not have their kids videotaped.”
The City Council approved the updated policy, which is not very different from what the library had in place before. It just codifies the rules, Pearson said.
The approval will give the rules a little more heft.
Depending on the violation, anyone being disruptive or breaking library rules could be asked to leave for the day or even lose all privileges for up to three years.
“I’m very careful about telling somebody to leave the library for the day,” Pearson said. “It doesn’t happen all the time or even very often.”
The library experiences an influx of people who are homeless leaving the Astoria Warming Center with their belongings during the emergency shelter’s winter season. With few to no options elsewhere during the day, the library has become a refuge, providing a dry, warm place to rest, read and access the internet.
Though there can be challenges — the library is not set up to be a daytime drop-in center for the homeless — “they’re library customers like anybody else,” Pearson said. The updated policy is not intended to target them or any one group, he told the City Council.
Instead, the standards are “a framework for all to follow.”
A rule against placing personal belongings in the way of staff or other library patrons applies equally to a parent’s stroller as it does to a bag that someone who is homeless brings inside, Pearson said.