What does “Closing Time” mean?

The “Open Hours” are the hours of operation, but the Library Staff treat it as the “drop dead time to walk out the door and go home.” Anyone patronizing any commercial or other service establishment knows that “open” means “open” and if I have 30 seconds of business to do and you close at 6:00:00 PM, I can walk in at 5:59:00 PM and do my business.

Not BPL. They shut down the elevators at 10 minutes to closing — to hell with the elderly and handicapped, I guess. They shut off the checkout stations on the 5th floor – I think even if you are in the middle of checking things out – and you are forced to check out on the 1st floor.

So I give the library two choices:


you honor the closing time as all retail stores do – and people can enter as late as 5:59:30 versus a closing time of 6:00:00 – and still be fully served. In this case, tough darts, the staff has to stay a little longer (so compensate them accordingly.)


if you want to behave as you do now, then be honest and knock 15 minutes off the currently stated closing times. You are closing at 5:50 if you turn the elevators off at 5:50 and there is no two ways about that. Also, the checkout machines are all on or all off, period.

I have no problem with either solution, but I do have a problem with the “cake and eat it too” approach of pretending to close at 6:00 if they’re spending the last 10-15 minutes of that time telling you they can’t do anything for you because they’re closing. And shutting off the elevator is hostile. I know it is to discourage people from going upstairs near closing time, but closing time is closing time and this “social engineering” of the public’s behavior is not very clever (or polite) at all. If you’re shutting the elevator off to halt the public you can only do that when the public is already gone, so you cannot do that until 6 PM (and if someone needs to sue BPL under the disability act to make this point, then the statute they’ll sue under should be cited to BPL before that suit is filed so they will act before they get sued.)

A final word: the elevator must never be shut down so as to force patrons to use the stairs to reach the 1st floor. For anyone on the 5th floor with business still to do (since you turned off the checkout machines on the 5th floor), this is just grossly, gratuitously rude.

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