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Library Or Loo?

February 28, 1993

Erika Taylor's essay "You're Always Welcome Here" (Dec. 6) describing the homeless use of the Santa Monica Library was half the story. Here is the other half.

The library has become a refugee camp for the homeless. They bivouac with shopping bags, shopping carts, tents, blankets and duffel bags full of food, drinks and insects. They eat, drink, spit, sleep, snore and converse in the library.

In the men's room, they sleep, smoke and bathe. Paper towels have been removed to prevent bathing, so toilet paper is used instead. Consequently, there is no toilet paper for its intended function.

To enforce security, two guards are now on patrol. Next year will there be three? Then four? And the money used to pay the guards is not going for its intended use: books.

And there is constant, palpable fear. Fear of being accosted in the parking lot on these dark winter nights. Fear as you walk through the obstacle course of pestering, panhandling and propositioning from the parking lot to the library. Fear that the person next to you might steal your belongings. Fear that the person at any time might start mumbling, hallucinating or spouting obscenities.

Because "You're Always Welcome Here," the Santa Monica library is now a refuge center which happens to have books.

PAUL KUZNIAR, SANTA MONICA

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