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Newmarket Library asks some readers to take a shower

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Apr 14th, 2016


The Newmarket Public Library is handing out letters to people with body odour, pointing out that free showers and laundry facilities are close by.

Some are suggesting that the letter discriminates against the homeless.

Library CEO Todd Kyle says that many library users have openly complained about the financially disadvantaged who often stay at the library all day. In fact, some people have suggested to staff the homeless should not be allowed into the facility at all.

“I’ve had people comment to me that it’s too bad we have human rights laws, otherwise you could kick them out; I don’t have a response to that.”

At least two letters have been given out so far.

Public libraries have long been havens for people with nowhere else to go.

In the U.S., a growing number of library systems are adding services for patrons who are homeless, hungry, or suffering from drug addiction or mental illness. In D.C., libraries are hiring social workers, partnering with non-profits and organizing social hours.

Kyle said the Newmarket library does regularly provide a number of services to homeless and at-risk people. They can use computers and telephones to search for jobs and access social services.

Staff will also connect visitors to Inn From the Cold and other York Region social services, but he stresses it’s not the library’s role to find long-term solutions to homelessness issues.


  • Frank Graham says:

    I think there is a much ‘nicer’ way of approaching this issue.

    Have a general notice up at the entrance…..keep it simple…..include a small list of items that the library wishes to address…promote compliance by the words you use and the approach you take.

    As well, sometimes ‘body odour’ may not be totally under the control of the person for many reasons; mental health, physical health, life situations and so on. Show compassion…..if you do need to address the issue directly with someone, do so privately and in a manner that won’t embarass or insult them.

    peace out
    Frank from Guelph

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