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posted by Mike on December 26th, 2006

A couple updates from the Christmas T&G.

Cirignano hearing Feb 20:

Larry Cirignano, the Catholic Citizenship executive director who pushed a protester to the ground during a Dec. 16 anti-gay marriage rally here, will appear before a clerk magistrate on Feb. 20 on a charge of assault and battery.

Also, there’s a settlement of the lawsuit against the Library for its lending policy towards the homeless. For more info, see our podcast with all the background you’d ever want.

I’m not sure how a couple of legal stories end up in Monday’s paper. Wouldn’t these announcements have come out on Friday?

How to get your library to change its lending policy

posted by Mike on November 17th, 2006

[Download the mp3 of “How to get your library to change its lending policy”]

Here’s a podcast of Mike Benedetti & Kevin Ksen talking about how Worcester residents convinced the library to change its policy on lending to the homeless.

Other formats, podcast feed. This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. Share and enjoy.

Kevin Ksen
Pictured: Kevin Ksen, and a pumpkin-based microphone placement.

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New library lending policy: follow-up

posted by Mike on September 14th, 2006

Jackie Reis covered the library’s new lending policy in the Telegram:

Everyone who has a library card will be treated equally: They can take out two items during their first visit and up to 50 thereafter, [Head Librarian] Ms. [Penny] Johnson said. Previously, people who listed their address as a shelter could only take out two items. The library no longer keeps a list of such addresses, Ms. Johnson said.

Kevin Ksen, one of the activists who’s been pressuring the library about this for months, shares his thoughts at Indymedia:

. . . the library’s reversal will be the second significant community organizing success for Real Solutions in recent weeks. . . . This summer, after continued pressure and discussions, the City of Worcester agreed to remove all of the anti-panhandling signs installed last year around the City. Pair these two changes with the successful reversal of the City’s invitation to the FOX TV show ‘COPS’ in August and you quickly see the vitality of today’s community organizing in Worcester.

Worcester Public Library board: new policy on lending to the homeless

posted by Mike on September 13th, 2006

At last night’s Library Board meeting, they approved a new lending policy. The old policy contained restrictions on borrowing by those living in homeless shelters. That policy got the library sued.

Huge jpegs of the new policy:
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Here’s a transcription.
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Stone digs into library policies

posted by Mike on July 15th, 2006

The Telegram’s Matt Stone is digging into the Worcester Public Library’s stupid lending practices that have gotten it sued.

No bombshells in these reports, but it’s good to see that investigations are in progress. Mr Stone has looked at lending policies of other Massachusetts libraries, and the sloppiness of the Worcester library’s policy.

One sentence I noticed in the most recent article:

Social service agencies have largely been satisfied with the policy, [head librarian] Ms. Johnson said.

Mr Stone notes that at least two of the agencies affected by the policy had no idea it existed.

The Catholic Worker shelter, also on the list, was never contacted about the policy, either before or after it was enacted, as far as anyone there remembers.

Library: no data on losses to homeless?

posted by Mike on July 13th, 2006

I’m in Philly, catching up on my Internet reading. An interesting statement in the Globe’s coverage of the Worcester library getting sued for dissing the homeless:

[Head librarian Penny] Johnson said she did not have data on how many books had been lost over the years to homeless patrons, but said the policy had helped curb the problem.

It’s a good guess that the library is losing lots of books to homeless patrons. But before you turn guesswork into a policy, you need to gather some actual facts.

(As Kevin notes at Indymedia, in meetings earlier this year the library quoted stats on book losses to activists. What happened to this data since then?)

Library sued for bad lending policy

posted by Mike on July 6th, 2006

Legal Assistance and the ACLU are suing Worcester and the library because the library has a policy that discriminates against borrowers who live in homeless shelters.

I love the library, and I hate lawsuits, but I think Legal Assistance has a point here. The early copy of the policy that I saw only looks at where a person lives, not whether the person has a habit of returning books on time.

Most library patrons can borrow 40 books at a time. But even if a person in a homeless shelter is all Abraham Lincoln, and walks ten miles through the snow each week to return his library books on time, he can only check out 2 books at a time. The policy says that the library will never trust him, so long as he’s living in one of the homeless shelters, transitional housing programs, or adolescent programs on “the list.”

I’m not aware of a library policy that restricts borrowing for people who live at other addresses that cater to transients, such as Single Room Occupancy (SRO) buildings.

Note that at least one non-institutional, private residence—the Catholic Worker house on Mason St—is listed included among the addresses “on the list” in the draft policy.

Updates to follow here and at Indymedia.