Here in Texas starting January 1st, licensed gun carriers will be able to carry their handguns openly as long as the gun is secured. They will be prohibited from openly carrying in some places such as schools and private businesses. Personally, I am asking every business that I frequent if they will allow open carry so I can know whether or not I will continue to spend my money there. However, public libraries are public entities that must adhere to this law.
The Texas State Library and Archives has put together a great FAQ on Handguns in Texas Libraries that I wanted to share. Also, the Texas Municipal League has written a paper explaining state law and municipal authority over the regulation of “firearms” (e.g., rifles, shotguns, and handguns) in Texas. And the City of Dallas has put together this short video addressing frequent questions and listing violations of the law.
These resources might help answer many questions we will all have as we adjust to the changes ahead. I am interested to learn how this affects public libraries all over the state.
Yesterday I ventured out to conduct my first workshop for public librarians in La Grange, TX. Staff from several of the surrounding public libraries also came. But only just barely!
Thought the rain had stopped by the time I was on the road, there had been a huge storm early that morning. Most of the roads leading into La Grange were covered with water. I was on the phone texting with the director who didn’t have power and was flooded into her home just outside of town. Neither of us had any idea what state the library would be in when we finally did get there. But I and many others sat in my car hoping the authorities there regulating the situation would allow us through or divert traffic in some way.
I had just about given up and decided to see if I could turn around to go through Muldoon which would have been about an hour out of my way. But finally, after about 40 minutes of sitting, we started to slowly move forward.
Finally made it into town!
Almost everyone who registered was able to make it even though the storm and flooding caused a lot of chaos that day. We only got started about 30 minutes late. I could talked much longer about customer service than I did, but I think it went well. People were engaged, sharing ideas and stories. I brought many materials from the CTLS professional collection that got checked out, too.
Many asked for my slides so I put them on Slideshare and thought I would put them here, too. Connecting Texas Libraries Statewide provides consulting and continuing education opportunities for libraries all over Texas! We are here to serve those that serve. Contact CTLS if you have any professional development needs.
What a memorable experience for my first workshop! I will never forget it. 🙂
Going to go ahead and start with this… breastfeeding at the library is NOT an offense. You should NOT ask a mother to cover up or leave. Check your state’s breastfeeding laws, but if you are in Texas our Public Health Provisions, section 165.002 states that “a mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.”
Breastfeeding is becoming more and more common. There are campaigns supporting and encouraging breastfeeding in public. And the health benefits to baby and mother are becoming more known and talked about with new mothers. If you are a library that supports children and families, you will run into this. You should know how you plan to respond if there is a situation. When it comes to children, we tend to have a list at the ready of what they are allowed and not allowed to do. You can go to this area. You cannot have food or drink. You must be quiet.
Families with children are some of our best patrons! Instead of being so restrictive, what if we tried to make a welcoming and nurturing environment? I took one of my children to a birthday party at a bounce house place recently. I was surprised to find in the bathroom a lounge area with soft lighting, comfy seating, and a nice diaper changing table with a basket of supplies (wipes, extra diapers) in case someone forgot. It made me think, why can’t a public library offer a similar environment to our new mothers? I can hear the complaints about someone taking all of the supplies or living in the lounge area already.
Sure, implementing something like this could create issues that would need to be addressed. If someone was abusive of the supplies, make them available upon request. But think of the goodwill you will have from some of your best, most consistent patrons? A comfortable, welcoming place to feed their children’s minds and their tummies? Yes, please!
Let us consider how we as a public institution can be supportive of breastfeeding mothers. As a breastfeeding mother, I can say that it is not as intuitive as one might think. The first three months can be very hard and discouraging. It is no wonder so many women decide to stop breastfeeding after first giving it a shot. Lactation consultant services are typically pretty expensive. It would be wonderful to provide that service to low-income families. The Pensacola Public Library in Florida offered a class on breastfeeding. The Oakland Public Library in California hosted a series of events for new mothers that included a clothing swap, an introduction to baby sign language, and a chance to ask questions to a lactation consultant. And the Lincoln County Public Library in Kentucky hosts a regular Breastfeeding Support Group.
What has been your experience with breastfeeding in the public library? Have you been approached with a complaint about someone breastfeeding? How did you handle it? Has your library provided supportive services before? How did it go? Please share with me!