Some time ago while spending a few weeks on holiday with a friend of mine I started frequenting her local library and the more I went there the more disturbed I felt.

I don’t know about you out there, but that local library has more police patrol cars visiting the premises as a result of the staff requesting their presence than the local pub, nightclub or the bar!

On top of having cockroaches in the toilets and the carpet all around the building (God knows which books they like!), the best show on earth has got to be the visitors’ grotesque behaviour.

Not only you have regular readers, students, toddlers, retired people, yummy mummies…you also are being graced with the presence of dirty, loud, smelly, revolting, drunk and drugged homeless people using the library’s pcs with rather questionable behavior in public places.

I have witnessed people constantly abusing fellow readers, staff members including the manager without any inhibition. This demeanour has also been accompanied by physical threats and emotional abuse….this is all in a day of this charming library!

To make things even worse and hilarious, just at a stone’s throw there is a hospital which attends to the wellbeing of external patients of mental health who are on the loose once they leave that premises. Just guess where they usually camp next?! Exactly…the local library which is their unofficial social club where people like me witnessed surreal, absurd, aggressive, shocking and anti-social behavior you can ever imagine!

On one occasion I witnessed a deranged young woman verbally assault a visitor, a staff member along with the manager in less than 5 minutes… to no serious consequence! They did not even bother calling the police because the whole bureaucratic process is so mind wrecking that it will not even be worth it!!! These individuals are already familiar to the library’s staff, who in turn have them labeled in special categories. So they just let her be at ease doing whatever she wants and find themselves pressured to make special adjustments to her needs.

While the official government policy is to integrate such characters in the local community for they are considered harmless and perfectly capable to contribute to society, examples like these reflect quite the extreme opposite! Altogether this only helps to corrode other people’s mental balance who share the same premises, while central administration saves money instead of maintaining open the adequate institutions which historically always dealt and supported such challenging and vulnerable members of society.

In consequence, these mentally unstable members of society remain unsupported throughout most of the day without having a solid family basis, strong social networks, guidance in life or specialist help. At the same time, wherever they go unnecessary tension, stress and confrontations are generated while absurd and unacceptable levels of verbal and physical abuse take place!

This leaves the rest of us to handle the collateral damage when one of them decides to start trouble with you or a staff member inside the library, provoke confrontations when they argue with themselves, the computer screen, a book or newspaper or any other person sitting next to them. How sad is this?!

I still feel sorry for those professionals working at the library day in and day out, the unfortunate users and the poor unstable people who have nowhere else to go during the day.

When I returned to my local library I felt so much more grateful for the peaceful, healthy, quiet and uplifting atmosphere it usually offers. Not only it is a place I can meet and greet friendly and civilized locals but I can also find relevant info regarding local services, events and news. Amen to that!!!

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