Library Discrimination

Last week, I was in the new Michelle Obama library. I asked for the day pass, so I could use the computer. I was told by the lady in charge that "They are eliminating guest passes," so I needed to apply for a library card.

I left that library. I didn't feel like explaining my personal business about why I can't get a library card. I went to a smaller library down the street, where they were nice, and they gave me the computer day pass so I could get on the internet. I'm like many people, who can't afford a computer, smart phone or Wi-Fi.

I'm also like many people because I am a victim of stalking and domestic abuse. I escaped a situation of violence, and now share a place with someone, so I do not have to give out my name or information. I'm afraid to get a library card, or give people my name, because I don't know who knows who. An anonymous day pass is vital in keeping me connected to my loved ones on the internet.

I understand that Michelle Obama is a fancy new library. Maybe they only want fancy people using that library. Many people use the day passes; people who fear giving out personal information, homeless people who don't have I.D. and people from out of town visiting Long Beach.

I don't think Michelle Obama herself would like this new policy. All libraries need to remember their mission is to serve all people, especially those who have no other options. I thought libraries were there to help the people who need it most. Information needs to be available to all people, and accessing the internet is a big part of doing that.

Name Withheld by Request





This is really eye-opening. It seems so obvious why anonymous day passes are a need, not simply a convenience, when you consider this example.

Sam Berry

Our policy is to get them to sign up for a card if possible, but if they refuse we give them a guest pass

Kait Legg

Everyone deserves to use library resources, not just those people willing to give up personal information.

Carrie Gardner

We log people in with a generic ID. If they happen to be our students, we try to help them be able to log in with their own credentials because it’s more convenient for them if they need to print. Otherwise, it’s the generic log in, no questions asked. (To print, they would need to have an email address, but we don’t care what that address is.)

Jennifer Crispin

My library has a policy that to give a patron a guest pass, they need to present photo ID, and I really don’t like it. Maybe I will be able to point to this article to get the policy updated.

Darnis Sherman

If we forced people to show ID to use computers, we’d lose a lot of patrons and goodwill. I work in a black majority, poor-to-lower middle class neighborhood.

Aaron Zegas

Glad I’ve been working with libraries that let anyone use a computer if there is an open computer. No ID and no pass. The libraries are small so maybe this is easier. The computers do have hour time limits but those are easily extended if no one is waiting to use a computer.

Diedre Conkling

We offer a guest pass (randomly generated numerical username and password) for computer use to anyone that asks for it, no ID needed. Login time limit on computers generally is 4 hours, but that applies to whether it’s a carded patron or guest pass, and if the demand for computer time isn’t high (in other words, if there are other open computers available), we’ll extend the time on request.

Steven Witmer

So we all tweeted this article to the Obamas, right?

Kay Dee Meadows

We have a more restrictive guest policy (state-funded academic) because the system IT policy requires that all users be registered. It’s on my vast list of “things about which I am required to care by dint of my job, but personally dislike, and would eliminate if I could.”

 Mary Taylor Huntsman

Interesting the Los Angeles City Library System has something called a 15-minute computer so if a patron choses to not get a card they can use the computer for 15 minutes than it reboots & the next person can use it. Also for students they have student zones for certain hours after school where no card is needed & students can use computers.

Coleen Stretten

The library I retired from has a way to get library cards to those escaping domestic violence and similar situations. This one should also. Or make exceptions for day passes.

Louise Sullivan

We don’t issue guest passes but we do have “Internet Only” cards that someone can apply for and show no ID (and can put whatever correct or incorrect information they want). They are then in the system as that and can only use the computers.

Sena Loyd

W e welcome people to use our desktop stations simply by walking up and sitting down. We lend laptops in exchange for photo ID or key ring or phone or almost anything they wouldn’t want to part with on a permanent basis.

Lisa Richland


The library has the responsibility to prevent the use of its computers to commit fraud or harass others. The library needs to know who is using its computers so the police can track down the user if necessary. If a user has escaped from a domestic violence situation, then that person should contact a DV shelter and use its computers.

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