Feb. 26, 2010

There is no sleeping at the Boston Public Library

It is strictly forbidden to fall asleep at the Boston Public Library. I presume this policy is intended to keep the homeless from camping out here, but the homeless know the rules because, well, they camp out here, so it is not the homeless who are primarily affected. It is everyone else. Like me.

Unfortunately, conditions at the Boston Public Library are in all other ways sleep-optimal: quiet, low light, tens of thousands of dull old books. Just about the only way to ward off sleep under these circumstances is eating — but eating, alas, is likewise strictly forbidden at the Boston Public Library.

Security guards, with not much else to do, constantly patrol the library waking up anyone who drifts off. Ever vigilant, they troop past every fifteen minutes or so. Upon detecting a violation, they knock on the table where the offender has laid his head. Then comes a whisper: “No sleeping.” Sometimes even a finger wag.

The BPL sleep police have a thankless task, and it might be better for everyone if we simply changed the rule to “no more than 15 minutes per nap.” The bookkeeping would be unmanageable (how to track when each patron fell asleep? how long to allow between naps until a new 15 minutes is permitted?), but then libraries have always run largely on the honor system.

I will have to leave this matter to the trustees. The injustice of the Boston Public Library’s policy toward drowsy patrons is beyond my capacity at the moment, marooned as I am in the main reading room with a half-edited manuscript, brain-dead from reading the same pages over and over. And over. If I wait for the guard to pass, maybe I can sneak in a quick nap.

Categories: Boston    Tags: