Mark Twain Library/Homeless Shelter

mark-twain

Entrance to Mark Twain Library branch in Long Beach, California

Due to my work schedule, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Long Beach.  As a result of not having access to consistent WiFi, I have been forced to camp out at the library here.  The difference between the libraries I’m accustomed to and the libraries in California are that the patrons here are often homeless people in need of Internet or an electrical outlet.  It’s also a nice, air conditioned building that requires no money on your part to be in.

There’s an eclectic variety of weirdos that occupy the library at any given time.  Today, I went to the bathroom and noticed that there was a hole in the stall wall where the toilet paper should be.  Through that hole, I could see someone standing on the toilet.  Realizing that I could be the victim of a Peeping Tom, I looked up.  No one there.

I reported the matter to the desk clerk, who seems to have alleviated the problem.  However, it does make me wonder if the declining educational standards in this country are because kids are afraid to visit the local library.  As a teen especially, I spent a great amount of time at the library, reading or using the computer.  And who can forget free DVD checkouts?  As an adult, there always seem to be only adults at the library.  At least there are no screaming babies.

There was actually a news article related to the homeless taking over an award-winning library in Santa Ana, which can be found here.  From tent cities to drug use, the library has seen it all in regards to the homeless population looking to utilize the most out of the public resource.  And given that most communities look for ways to discourage homeless from being attracted to their towns, the available areas for them to spend their, in some cases, unlimited free time is quickly shrinking in number.  Even churches around these parts prosecute “trespassers” and put gates around their parking lots.  Public libraries are one of the few havens left.

As someone who has been known to live in their car during cross-country trips and extended vacations (kind of like the one I’m in now), I know some of the struggle that these homeless types face every day.  For those who are jobless, the resources available are so limited, one can bust their ass and still never get ahead enough to end their homelessness, especially in California where the cost of living is so high.  Things most of us take for granted like showers are not commonplace without a residence, and for someone hoping to acquire and maintain meaningful employment, it’s difficult to do when you smell like a dumpster.

But seriously, Mark Twain Library.  You have a glory hole in your men’s room, even if that’s not its intended use.  Get your shit together.

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