AUBURN — Of the 782 people who come to the Auburn Public Library on an average day, most have perfectly good manners.
"The vast majority are wonderful and they care about the library and they respect the library," library Director Lynn Lockwood said. "We want the No. 1 message we put out to be that we welcome everyone — until they prove to us that we should not. And that takes some doing."
Lockwood said the library updated its conduct guidelines last month in light of some unacceptable behavior.
"We added language about finger food, specifying what people can eat," Lockwood said. "Then we added language about loitering at the entrances because some of our teens were tending to do that and block the building."
Lockwood said the guidelines would not have changed the response to an assault in April. In that situation, a 19-year-old Lewiston man had a psychotic break and assaulted a librarian in the children's section.
"That was not a predictable thing," she said. "No one incited him or did anything wrong. It just sort of happened — and according to the police, we reacted the way we should have."
Instead, they are meant to address improper or rude behavior.
Lockwood said she had to ask a teenage girl to cover a shirt that had profanity on it. A ban on obscene clothing went into guidelines because of that situation.
In another instance, a library patron urinated in the elevator while it traveled between floors.
"Obviously it was a male, or a gymnast," Lockwood said. "We think we know who it was, and we addressed it."
The response to that situation was obvious, Lockwood said. Staff began limiting use of the elevators and monitoring who got on and off.
Other behavior is more subtle, she said. For example, the library does allow people to eat finger food and snacks.
"But you can't set out bowls and have a meal," Lockwood said. "That's what one family was doing."
Lockwood said it's a fine line. She wants the library to remain a safe, open place for people, and especially for people who may not have another place to go.
"It's something public buildings face during difficult times," she said. "We are safe and warm and welcoming and I can see how people think of us. But we don't have different rules for different people, so we spoke to them."
The library's guidelines encourage patrons to treat library materials gently, speak quietly and not disturb others.
It bans disruptive behavior, loitering, threatening, visiting obscene or pornographic sites on library computers, sleeping, smoking, selling, bringing pets, skateboarding and rollerblading.
"We've had these guidelines for a long time, but we have to update them periodically to address new situations," Lockwood said.