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Failure to protect library functionality
Published on May 25, 2014 By Phil Osborn In Current Events

To: CityCouncil@tustinca.org

Thanks for your attention to this matter.

In brief, the Tustin library has become increasingly unusable for legitimate pusposes, due to the failure to address the problems of various noises making it impossible to concentrate on any serious research. 

Along with the noise issues, there has been a slowly increasing level of related problems, associated largely with the concentration of homeless with obvious mental problems who nevertheless hang on to every available library computer, sometimes sleeping at the computer station and thereby blocking the use by patrons who have signed on for that computer, even on warm, sunny days with multiple benches and tables available outside. 

Right now, as I type this, I am sitting at a computer next to a homeless man who insists on playing various films through amplified headphones that are clearly  audible up to 15 feet away.  I have seen this man here virtually every time I use the library, always with the loud headphones, watching videos or movies, and thereby slowing the library network down to a crawl for the other patrons, while subjecting them to screams from the horror films he seems to prefer. 

Meanwhile, in the background there is an ongoing verbal contest between two other homeless regulars who could just as easilly carry on their argument outside, but who have chosen to enlighten the entire library as to their dispute.  Their dispute has been going on for the better part of an hour now, and has finally stopped, thank God.

This is my second session today on the computer, as I was unable to do much useful work, due to the combination of the homeless man playing movies and the ongoing conversation two feet away from me between a young couple sharing a computer.  The young couple finally got the idea and left - with several patrons giving me a "thumbs up."  Unfortunately, the computer sign-up system has put me right next to the homeless movie guy, so I'm having to give up on doing the research for my friend.

On various recent occasions, these matters have escalated to the point of physical violence and the Tustin PD is called in.  For example, a few weeks ago, a gang-banger (by his looks and in-your-face attitude) who seems to enjoy annoying his neighbors, took a station next to a guy who I understand is a recent vet with PTSD and serious anger management issues.  The gang-banger enjoyed swinging his arms around while essentially dancing in his chair to rap videos.  Apparently he got carried away and swung his hand into the vet's face, after which things went South rapidly and the PD had to separate them. 

As an occasional matter, these incidents are what has to be expected from a public venue.  However, it has reached the point that for many of us, the library is virtually unusable.

Today, I have been attempting to do some medical research for a friend who has MS, but it is virtually impossible to concentrate in the current, unfortunately typical, environment.  The library personnel have essentially given up and refuse to do anything except in the most egregious cases.  There used to be notices posted to the effect that only one person may use a computer at a time, in order to prevent the inevitable conversations that accompany joint usage and disrupt everyone elses use of the system.  Those signs have disappeared and the library is becoming steadilly a less useful and more hostile environment.

I will be posting a copy of this on my blog site at JoeUser.com and am planning a campaign to alert the other patrons here for the purpose of organizing a libary users union to focus attention on this and other endemic problems at the Tustin library, such as the large-scale theft of books and other library materials that one of the library personnel alerted me to. 

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