Our old building didn't even HAVE a parking lot.

A library patron is a person who uses the library — to take a toddler to story time, to reserve the novel that every book club in America has decided to read next month,  or to pay the whopping replacement fee for that dog training book that Bowser just chewed to pieces.

If you aren’t a library patron, please do not park in the library parking lot. Yes, it’s free. And it’s right in the center of town.  But it’s a small lot, and we need every space for our patrons. Seems simple, doesn’t it? But many of you apparently need a more detailed explanation. So we’ll spell it out for you.

The fact that you happen to own a library card does not entitle you to park in our lot if you aren’t in fact using our library. Stopping in to use our bathroom before spending the afternoon shopping does not mean you can park here all afternoon.

Nor does displaying a library book on your dashboard.

If you’re in town to shop, park at the store.  If you’re in town to pick up your dry cleaning, park at the dry cleaners. We don’t have your  freshly ironed shirts at the library, so unless you’re going to come in and check out a book about ironing, don’t park here.

We recently installed a large sign. It didn’t help. What part of  “THIS PARKING LOT IS FOR LIBRARY PATRONS ONLY” is confusing you?You fully intend to visit the library after you lunch at the deli? Great! But while you lunch, please park in a metered space outside the deli. Don’t park here.

Speaking of which, smuggling your corned beef sandwich into the library to nosh while browsing is not a good idea. Crumbs attract rodents. The only rodent who belongs in this building is Stuart Little. Our reference librarian recently lost twenty pounds on an excruciatingly strict diet, and she can smell a delicious sandwich from across the library. She will eject you. And confiscate your sandwich. So don’t even try it.

Yes, that battered green van belongs to a homeless man who spends all day in the library and lives in the van at night. When he parks his van in our lot all day he is  hogging that parking space, which is unfortunate.  On the other hand he, unlike you, is actually using the library. (The fact that he’s using it to take long naps, lock himself in the bathroom to perform his ablutions and plug in to recharge all his battery-operated devices is a separate, if deeply troubling,  issue.)

The fact that you are going to the church down the block does not make it okay to park in our lot. God does not want you to park in the library parking lot when you are not using the library. Even if the church lot is full. If you don’t believe me, please come in and check out some of our books about religion.

We’re happy you gave us a generous donation during our fundraising drive. Thank you! And yet our sign doesn’t actually say that it’s okay to park here as long as you’ve recently written the library a large check.

Maybe next time, instead of nabbing the last free space in our lot and then strolling off to shop while  ignoring the actual library patrons who are circling the lot trying to find a place to park, you could come inside and check out a book about common courtesy?

If any of this is too nuanced, subtle  or complicated, feel free to come into the library and ask a librarian. We‘ll be happy to explain it to you.

While you are doing so, you are welcome to park in our lot.

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  • Roz Warren October 5, 2016 at 8:26 am

    This essay is included in OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR. http://ow.ly/LpFgE

  • Gail Lockman February 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    How about installing parking meters in your parking lot? Librarians are not parking lot attendants. Why should you or any staff get exorcised about this problem? Life is too short and you all have better things to do, like checking on the guy in the bathroom. Check with your City Attorney before you post signs, your City Council may have to approve them. I could go on but my head is starting to ache. Good luck from a retired librarian.

  • RozWarren November 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Joan my boss might go for that!

  • Joan Price November 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Love this! Print out a bunch and put them under windshields in your parking lot every two hours. That should get your message to the people who need it!

  • RozWarren November 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Dr. Pat although I would LOVE to put up a Wall of Shame in our library (and in fact you’ve just given us a great idea for an essay..) my boss is very attuned to community relations and as much as I personally long to play “Gotcha!” with the jerks who park in our lot when they shouldn’t, this isn’t the face she wants our library to present to the world. I.e. she’s more “Can I help you?” than “Can I harass you you?” Of course, if it were up to ME… 🙂 Handcuffs and a night in the slammer is too good for some of these folks!

  • Patricia Yarberry Allen November 13, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Buy a video surveillance cameras and install it in the library parking lot. Put up a big sign warning potential criminals that they will be photographed if they park illegally in a library parking spot and that their activity caught on video will be displayed on a wall of shame inside the library and maybe on the library website!

    I have more ideas if you want to have a secret chat,

    Pat Allen

  • RozWarren November 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Thanks for reading and posting your comments!

  • irene November 13, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I love this piece! especially the bits about Stuart Little and the reference librarian. One of the Seattle libraries (with a small parking lot) makes library patrons log their cars in a notebook with “in” and “out” times.
    /Keep on writing!/

  • Maria November 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Oh, so true. And–my favorite–the perfectly able-bodied woman who parks in the one spot reserved for the disabled because she drives her dead father’s car, and he actually needed the tag and had a right to use the spot.