Phone use and covered beverages are now allowed in the Central Library and the 35 branches in the City of San Diego system, according to the revised version of the San Diego Public Library “Rules of Conduct for Library Patrons” that took effect September 1, library director Misty Jones said in a September 13 email.
Patrons discovered those items were allowed in several ways. Gone are the boxes that some branches placed near front doors for patrons to deposit water bottles before entering the library.
David Ege, San Carlos branch manager, announced the changes at the September 7 San Carlos Area Council meeting. Library staff will “address” the issue if a patron is loud or has an uncovered beverage, Ege said.
Ege’s announcement prompted a man in the audience to ask, “What’s next — lunches?”
No food is allowed, Ege said, and eating is among the activities listed in the rules. The first of the 12 rules that patrons should “refrain from in the library” is, “Smoking, vaping, eating, or bringing open containers of food or drink in the library. Beverages with a lid are permitted.” Patrons are advised in another rule to refrain from “using mobile devices at a volume that disturbs others.”
Jones said, “The library routinely reviews and updates the rules of conduct. Smartphone technology has evolved, and more library patrons rely on cell phones to accomplish daily tasks. San Diego public libraries are becoming hubs for innovation and technology, and we want our rules of conduct to reflect how we embrace and encourage technology use. Library staff is taking a common-sense approach to the library’s rules of conduct. Instead of a specific rule regarding phones or beverages, we will address any behavior that is profane or disruptive.”
At the Allied Gardens/Benjamin branch on September 15, some patrons perused bookshelves, several were at computer stations, and others sat with their phones while I met with supervising librarian Kelly Pepo and librarian Harlynne Geisler.
Pepo offered a brief comment on the new rules. “Libraries are 21st Century, and people get thirsty,” she said. “We want people to know they are welcome in here as long as they are mindful” about covered beverages and other rules. The sound level for patrons talking on phones should be the same quiet tone that people use when speaking to others in the library, she said.
“People come in to use the computers. Someone may go online and need to make a call when paying a bill,” Pepo said. Geisler said others use the computers for résumés and may need to call someone.
At the start of the interview, Geisler produced her phone to demonstrate the library’s new “SDPL To Go” app. (The app was updated on August 27 on Google Play and on August 30 on iTunes.)
Geisler spoke softly and enthusiastically about it. “You can access the entire card catalogue by phone; download books and audio books for free. You can see what you checked out, scan book bar-codes, and find information about locations. And, there’s an event calendar with events like preschool storytime and yoga,” she said.