One Step Forward; One Step Back

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The Austin (TX) Public Library has changed their Conduct Policy. You can read about it in the Austin Statesman, in their story entitled “Keeping library patrons safe, 1 cap removal at a time”. For “safety” (though they don’t explain just how it does increase safety), they are banning hoodies, caps, hats, and sunglasses. As the article puts it:

You heard that right. Starting next Friday, Austin’s libraries will begin enforcing a dress code that prohibits ball caps, sunglasses and hoodies. You’re asking why. It’s the same reason given for about everything else that goes down these days: keeping you safe.

Hey, I’m kept so safe these days that I’m almost afraid to leave the house.

The city’s library system has put up bumper sticker-style signs at all of its 21 branches, the history center and its Recycled Reads bookstore on Burnet Road. These signs show international “no” signs over illustrations of ball caps, sunglasses and hoodies.

The library came up with the rule so that customers can’t hide their faces, said Toni Grasso, the libraries’ administrative manager in the office of programs and partnerships.

They even have a new poster to go with it:

Do you think this might be overkill? Do they really think this will fix anything (particularly since, from the story, there isn’t much broken?). But it is just another example of library authoritarian over-reach.

So, that’s the one step back. What’s the one step forward? The new policy, in its entirety, is here. The new line in it, effective September 3, says:

Appropriate clothing is required – Wearing apparel that obscures or conceals the face, including but not limited to hoodies, caps, hats, sunglasses.

The old policy had a line that said:

Not Wearing Shirts, Pants or Shoes

Notice anything? That line is gone. I guess bare feet are now OK. I do wonder if they won’t try to still exclude bare feet as not “Appropriate Clothing.” Anybody in Austin was to test it?

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