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I am a frequent patron of the Canton Library. Sometimes I am there 2 or 3 times a week. I am really getting tired of the petition solicitors that stand outside the front doors. Most are at least polite, but once I had a guy actually make a derogatory remark when I told him "no" when he asked for a signature. There probably isn't anything that the Library can do, but I at least wanted to register my profound displeasure with the constant molestation going on for 4 weeks now. If there is, in fact, anything that can be done PLEASE DO SO. Thank you for your time.

Comments

eva
Tue, 2014-04-22 12:44

Thank you for contacting us. I am sorry that the petitioners are bothering you--they are not allowed to be derogatory or harassing. When something like that occurs, please let us know at any of the desks so that I or one of my managers can go out and address their poor behavior.

As a limited public forum, the library board has set forth in our Code of Conduct the library's regulations on soliciting. As a unit of government, the library cannot abridge people's first amendment right to free speech; this includes political speech, which is how campaigners and ballot/candidate petitioners are classified. We are, however, allowed to regulate Time, Place, and Manner:

  1. Time – During the library’s open hours.
  2. Place – Outdoors, six feet from entrances, awnings, and overhangs.
  3. Manner – Petitioners/campaigners must comply with our Code of Conduct. They cannot block people from entering or exiting the library. They cannot block sidewalks or walkways. They cannot interfere with other people's use of library services. They may not harass patrons. They may not disrupt library operations. They must obey all local ordinances, state laws, and federal laws.

If the petitioners/campaigners are stepping in front of you, blocking the sidewalk or doors, harassing you, or persisting when you tell them “no,” please let us know when it happens. We will follow up with the petitioners and we do track complaints.

Another option is to contact the candidate or cause for which they are gathering signatures and complaining to them directly. Most candidates and causes do not want to antagonize voters and are more likely to respond to a direct complaint.

Again, I am sorry that your recent visits to the library have been marred by signature gatherers. It is both the beauty and the curse of the public library that we are a gathering space for everyone, and unfortunately the election season is still young. As you noted, most are very appropriate and polite--when you do have an encounter that violates our rules, please let us know so that we may address it.

Best,
Eva Davis
Director