Saturday, September 26, 2009

Illness at the Library

Shock of all shocks, the school year is already more than a month over! When I was in school, I remember how slowly it all passed, but the freshmen are already old hands at this college thing and I feel as though I barely blinked an eye. My mother always said that life just keeps speeding up and now I believe her, whole heartedly.

Today is my Monday - working nights and weekends tends to shift ones perspective on "weeks" - meaning I spent the first half hour of my day reading email, most of which held information already expired.

That is when I came upon one that held a link to this site: LibraryLaw Blog. Just as the name suggests, it is blog where you can ask all sorts of questions about the law and libraries (maybe that is why they named their blog that - hehe!).

N1H1 (aka - Swine Flu) was the topic of the post the link directed me to. In the post, the author discusses what rights library staff have in throwing out people suspected of being ill... in short: none at all. Personally I think this essay is spot on and lends exactly what I hold to be true about libraries a touch of legal backing.

Perhaps it is because I grew-up in a home with a doctor on hand who never believed we were sick enough to go to the doctor unless we severed a limb or perhaps it is because I have had Norwalk virus which was so horrible, painful, and gross that death being an end to the suffering sounded like a great, comforting idea, but I have been a cynic of this Swine Flu hoopla from the beginning.

Washing your hands with warm soapy water and using, occasionally, hand sanitizer, is the best way to prevent illnesses. End of story. I am sure that I am not alone in receiving countless emails and directives from higher up that contain N1H1 prevention methods that ring of verge-of-the-abyssness.

It has gotten to the point that I feel I need to apologize in class or at work for coughing - "I swear, I don't have swine flu!"

But back to libraries... my justification for not kicking people out or even giving them dirty looks when they cough or sneeze has always been that it is their personal choice and need to be there, and it is our duty as librarians to continue to provide this public service (hand sanitizer in tow, of course) for all. Who knew the law was on my side?

In the post, I think that the author drives home the more universal issue by saying "But the fact remains that librarians are not doctors, and cannot diagnose H1N1." And, as a colleague of mine aptly put it in a response to the link email, "Setting any legal issues aside, since the symptoms of N1H1 are just like any other influenza or cold, it would be impossible to determine who has it just by looking at their symptoms."

On that note ~ stay healthy but, more importantly, sane!


  1. My folks also refused to believe I was sick, pneumonia be damned.

    Fight the good fight. And enjoy the Swine Flu hysteria while it lasts.

  2. The Daniel-

    Swine Flu hysteria sure does make me feel important... I'm getting twice as many emails as I normally do. Granted, they are all about "Washing your Hands" and the like, but beggars cannot be choosers!

  3. A couple of weeks ago, the Florida Football Team was almost knocked out by the flu. I suppose I'm lucky that I'm not going too many places these days, so I'm not at great risk (knock on wood).