Oak Park Library lifts eating ban

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Sick of sneaking snacks into the Oak Park Public Library? Rejoice!

The big building full of books announced that patrons can begin bringing food inside, starting on June 1. There are a few conditions — no snacks in the quiet areas, no eating while on the computer, no pizza deliveries to public areas (except for prearranged and approved meetings in public meeting rooms) — but otherwise, the library says you can chow down.

Changes may be made in the coming year, depending on how things go.

"We expect this new policy to be both popular and successful, but we will be evaluating it for possible revisions during the first six months," library Director Dee Brennan said in a press release.

Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

OP Resident  

Posted: June 4th, 2011 3:51 PM


Violet Aura  

Posted: June 4th, 2011 3:36 PM

@OP: ???? Sorry, I am not receiving but my point is that I am in OP just about every day so yeah, I comment on wherever I spend my time.

OP Resident  

Posted: June 4th, 2011 2:53 PM

I suppose not everyone can afford OP. Continue

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 4th, 2011 2:39 PM

@OP: Hey, it's my hometown, dewd so yeah, I am interested in what goes down there. Plus, they allow us River Forest trash into OP. LOL

OP Resident  

Posted: June 3rd, 2011 11:27 AM

Violet, You seem to comment more about Oak Park issues than the town in which you live. Oak Park does have a superior everything compared to most, but hey I'm just sayin. Ha

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 3rd, 2011 11:14 AM

@Senor Morales: LOL- you have implied in the past that I unnecessarily brought up race/ethnicity in my posts. Nice attempt at weasling out of it, though. You must have studied law. Your hostility to me is plain to see but it's all good. If your mama is as big a loudmouth as you appear to be, based upon your posts here, it's no wonder that the library staff told her to zip it. LOL

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 3rd, 2011 11:12 AM

@OP: Because I happened to be at the Main Library to pick up some books and movies over by there (I have been picking up Elmwood Park-ese lately; please forgive me).

OP Resident  

Posted: June 3rd, 2011 10:12 AM

Violet, If you live in RF, why dont you use your local library for computer use?


Posted: June 2nd, 2011 6:11 PM

@Violet - I didn't call you a racist, and never have. I did call you ignorant. If they were black, then they were black. Your problem seems to be poor reading comprehension and jumping to conclusions. Otherwise, you wouldn't have expected me to "Jump all over" Liz. Remember, you're the one who jumped all over me, because the "sound of your own voice" is more important to you than understanding what was actually said.

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 2nd, 2011 5:39 PM

Hey Mister Morales! Funny that you didn't jump all over Liz and she specified BLACK PEOPLE!! With me, you called me racist and everything! And I was the one who said "hordes of kids" and when I speak of noise, I am talking about the second floor of the library, from where I am posting RIGHT NOW! As soon as I came in the library, sure enough--a few girls were coming down the stairs (probably after several hours of being LOUD) and laughing loudly. I have heard them on the 2nd floor acting a fool!


Posted: June 2nd, 2011 2:05 PM

@Liz- I totally agree with the complaints about the hordes of kids in front of the library, and was absolutely STUNNED to see that nothing was done about this. Please don't confuse my post for something else. Anyone who has an issue with that, has a right too! I don't want to pass through groups of children using profanity while taking my children to the library. The children I'm speaking of were inside of the library, and had not done anything at all.


Posted: June 2nd, 2011 2:00 PM

@Violet Aura- You consistently prove yourself to be one of the most ignorant posters here. No, I complained about the situation that happened with my mother specifically. Not because she was told to be quiet, because of the way she was treated when she hadn't done anything at all. You don't know what happened to my mother, but you're jumping to conclusions. Funny....

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 2nd, 2011 1:06 PM

No Liz, Mister Morales thinks it's a "weird form of racial-profiling" to tell someone who is not White to STFU. Even if the bulk of noisemakers HAPPEN to be Black. As for the park, I agree with you. I saw a young man unearthing a metal pole from a section of Scoville Park and start waving it at a group that had gathered over there. I went to the security guard to let him know about it. I don't even think someone of the people constantly loitering around there are from OP.

Liz Cesarini from Oak Park  

Posted: June 2nd, 2011 12:55 PM

I live across the street from the library and everyday there a multitude of black kids so noisy and fighting i get very upset and have to shut my windows. In 2006 I had to study there for 2 years and it was so noisy inside the library it interrupted my studying almost every time I went. Now, there comes a rule that you can eat in the library I can't even imagine the noise and havoc this will cause, especially smelling food and dirty tables. You have such a beautiful library how you could tear is

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 2nd, 2011 9:07 AM

Another thing: I exited the library one day around 6 pm only to witness a fight between two teenage boys. They were fighting in front of the entrance! At first I thought they were just fooling around until it came to blows. Blood was dripping onto the white teeshirt of one of these guys! The security guard at the time (I haven't seen him in a long while) ran out and tried to get between them but couldn't. Finally the cops showed up but one of the boys kept swinging at the cop! It was madness.

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 2nd, 2011 8:55 AM

After school there would be hordes of students who went to the second floor and literally ran around the place, not reading, not doing anything productive but making noise. It was absolutely ridiculous. If they wanted to screw around, then don't hang at the library but the person who responded to me said that parents treat the library as a daycare center and pick up the kids later. Oh and yes, they were BLACK! And yes, we must expect appropriate behavior REGARDLESS of race! Pathetic post...

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 2nd, 2011 8:52 AM

@JG: You have GOT to be kidding me! You actually complained about them "copping attitudes?" Thanks a lot! Do you have any idea how chronic a problem it was? I have basically stopped going there because I was disgusted at often very loud patrons would be allowed to go on before I had to get up and request a librarian to deal with it. As for the teens, I wrote multiple times to mention how the security guards always seemed to be yakking it up at the front desk but rarely out and about...To be cont

J.G.Morales from Oak Park  

Posted: June 1st, 2011 8:21 PM

Although I doubt that food in the library would actually pose a serious problem, I do wonder how clean up would be handled. As for librarians being afraid to tell people to hush, that's not at all true. I've seen them on more than one occasion cop attitudes with high school kids, and once with my mother over what we took as a weird form of racial profiling. I had to call to complain! So, I'm sure there won't be a problem with the librarians reminding people to clean up, but it will be more work.

OTA from Oak Park  

Posted: June 1st, 2011 7:02 PM

I'm done here. Thanks for the support.

AL from Oak Park  

Posted: June 1st, 2011 6:50 PM

Oh for goodness sakes! You really think that when people check out a library book that they are using it in the same environment as the library? People read a good book with a glass of wine or have children who are snacking while reading theirs. Books get placed on dining room tables, on floors, they get stepped on, little kids wipe their nose then touch the book. I'm personally very excited about being able to bring a snack with me, curling up in a big chair overlooking the park and reading.

OTA from Oak Park  

Posted: June 1st, 2011 6:31 PM

To Dee Brennan, Could you please address the food allergy issue or allow for a more appropriate forum that those who have the same issue I have can discuss it with you?

OTA from Oak Park  

Posted: June 1st, 2011 6:19 PM

Thank you, Katherine and others for your show of support for kids with life-threatening nut allergies. I don't understand the blame, anger and ignorance in some of the comments below. How am I wrong for wanting to keep my 5 year-old son alive? We trust in our schools and our public spaces to set policies that keep our children as safe as reasonably possible. I know we cannot control what people eat at home around checked-out books, but to just allow a free-for all in the library is reckless.

Katherine Wyman from Oak Park  

Posted: May 31st, 2011 3:57 PM

For reasons I believe most doctors agree are unclear, many kids now have peanut/tree nut allergies. Public school classrooms are often deemed "nut free" zones due to the severity of some of these; highly allergic kids can't go to a baseball game due to the dangers posed by airborn peanut dust. Seems a shame to have parents scared to bring them to the library. Surely if we've gone this long with no food allowed, OPPL could ask patrons not to have nuts in the kids' dept., at the very least.

Dee Brennan from Oak Park   

Posted: May 31st, 2011 2:09 PM

I appreciate your feedback (no pun intended!) as it allows me to respond directly.We contacted libraries that have allowed food for more than 5 years and and heard they have not experienced problems.The most compelling thing we heard has also been noted in some comments here; materials go home with customers and 95% of the time come back fine and ready to be reused. Our experience is that OP is respectful of our materials and facilities and will continue to be so. We will certainly monitor it.

Diaa from Oak Park  

Posted: May 31st, 2011 8:14 AM

Let's see....30 comments and still waiting to hear from somebody who LIKES this idea. Maybe there aren't any!

Katherine Wyman from Oak Park  

Posted: May 28th, 2011 5:43 PM

While I agree this is a bad idea for all reasons already named, I'm guessing the new policy is an attempt to be more user-friendly. Modern libraries' positions grow precarious as electronic media use rises. But why so extreme? OPPL could put tables in 1 area (lobby?) without carpet or bookshelves & restrict food to that space for ease of cleanup. And OPPL should require patrons to avoid eating while using materials they haven't yet checked out so folks are still held responsible for any damage.

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 28th, 2011 12:21 PM

Earth to Dave and all the other pearl-clutchers: people *gasp* DO eat whilst munching on their greazy junk at home, you know...And (hold onto your hats), even the dreaded PEANUTS!!!!!! Egads!

Dave Biggus from Oak Park  

Posted: May 28th, 2011 11:38 AM

You mean people can crunch on chips in the library? Is OP capable of taking a strong stand on ANYTHING? I've always enjoyed the sanctuary of books and quiet that defined the library experience. Our tax dollars have gone to build this edifice, but it will be worth considerably less if we are not allowed to let our minds explore undisturbed from other patrons. OMG I won't know how to refrain if someone is smacking their food and turning pages with greasy fingers. It's OK to have boundaries OP!

oak park library/homeless shelter  

Posted: May 28th, 2011 10:12 AM

Maybe they could allow smoking next so the folks hanging out in the lobby won't feel bad about having to sneak a smoke while they loiter and intimidate the tax paying patrons. Why do we have 3 libraries anyway????


Posted: May 27th, 2011 8:45 PM

Disaster waiting to happen.

Violet Aura's Brother  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 6:33 PM

This is amazing. I can't wait to "eat" a bottle vodka at the library tomorrow.

Shawn from former Oak Parker  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 4:48 PM

Excuse me, but just why the hell should anyone need to *eat* in the library at all?

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 9:39 AM

I wonder if it's because the librarians are scared to "shush" people nowadays. Wouldn't be surprised if that is why.

Steve from Oak Park  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 9:38 AM

Will they allow picnic lunches and complete 5 course meals? What about loud, crunchy food in the quiet zones? I would take my 3 year old daughter into these quiet zones and would be given the evil eye and asked to leave when she spoke too loud. What's next, naps?

David Hammond from OakPark.com/Dining/Blogs  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 9:37 AM

Libraries quiet? What a quaint notion. It still makes my head turn when loud-talkers carry on at the library, because I can barely believe it's happening, but it happens all the time.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 9:33 AM

Yikes. I'm in the bad idea camp. Libraries are one of the last frontiers for old fashioned quiet and cleanliness.

Bad Idea  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 9:23 AM

People actually think allowing food in the library is a good idea? Then I'm guessing you've never been in a food court, cafeteria or even my front yard. Many people seem to think it's someone else's job to clean up their mess. As if the mess isn't enough what about the smells? Will food be allowed at Dole and Maze too? If so, I'll start using neighboring libraries. I think it's disgusting! Our tax dollars at work?

jbd@att.net from oak park  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 8:35 AM

Another stupid change. Why do this? People are piggish enough with their stupid mobile technology, so self-enclosed that they pay no attention to where they are walking on the street or whether they need to move to let someone else enter an open door, or having boorishly loud conversations about private matters that no one wants to hear. And now this? Who needs to hear someone chewing while looking for a book?

Marcus from O.P.  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 8:39 PM

Now I'll never be able to find a spot to sit and research someting. I already have to avoid all the places that the Homeless people sit. Now I'll have to look for a clean table and a clean chair. Is Borders still open? I hate public places. The library will now be about as clean as the average public bathroom. Yet another reason I need to get out of OP.

T.J. from Oak Park  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 8:27 PM

People eat too much anyway. You don't need to eat while you're at the library, or in your car, or while in bed... Why do you think people are so fat. Maybe we should send the library patrons who eat during their visit to a nearby health club for some exercise afterwards.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 4:05 PM

I don't know much about allergies but eating at a library is disgusting. If people are so hungry when are reading, researching, the library should use some space for a dining room like is done at museums, zoos, etc. Some foods really stink!

Nancy Trock T-Renegade Fitness from Oak Park  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 3:56 PM

Unbelievably bad decision! Not only does research prove we should be taking breaks from sedentary bouts in order to prevent disease, isn't it a public health concern for people with food allergies? It's simply gross and illogical.

Mother of allergic child  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 3:53 PM

Jean, you are so right. It is shocking to me how completely ignorant and intolerant people can be. No doubt these are ones that have never had to worry about their child DYING because of contact with certain allergens. And to suggest that they have created the allergy? Ridiculous and insensitive. I also agree that food in the library is a recipe for disaster. It isn't entirely a matter of getting food on books, there will be food on the tables, furniture, play area. Bad idea.


Posted: May 26th, 2011 2:28 PM

People without food allergies are so ignorant and intolerant. And allergies have nothing to do with being overclean. The immune system is challenged too many times by the same food being eaten repeatedly. Even if I did not have food allergies I would not think food in the library was a good idea.

Judith Warren from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 1:58 PM

Those of you concerned about food getting on the books - do you think all the books should be shrink-wrapped and NOT lent out to homes where there are food and beverages?

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 12:02 PM

@OTA: Are you a clean freak? Maybe your kid wouldn't have a peanut allergy if you weren't so hung up on making everything sanitized! The immune system strengthens itself through practice, practice, practice. In the '70s growing up in OP, we had food all the time for each kid's b-day and NEVER did allergies like peanuts come into the picture. What has changed in our society? (Oh, and everything was allowed to be a bit grungier, too...)

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 11:59 AM

Janne: Good grief, woman! What is up with that? So it's gross that someone would handle a book after eating something? Do you really believe that people are bathing their hands in antibacterial formula every time they touch a book, doorknob, etc.? No wonder so many children are dealing with allergies, asthma, etc. There is such a thing as being TOO clean!

David Hammond from Oakpark.com/Dining/Blogs  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 10:17 AM

In grad school, I'd camp out at the library all day, so I had to bring a lunch. I'm not enthusiastic about turning the library into a BYO food zone (I'm concerned about damage to books, etc.), but I fully understand how on major homework binges, people gotta eat.

Elle from Oak Park  

Posted: May 26th, 2011 8:46 AM

Just this morning - another segment about obesity in America and we can't even get through a visit to the library without a snack. Good grief!

Diaa from Oak Park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 11:38 PM

Bad for books (and periodicals). Beverages spill, goodies crumble or release their hidden fats, fillings or sugars onto (soon to be sticky) fingertips. Isn't the lobby area enough for that?

Sick of It from OP  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 7:44 PM

Yes, by all means, let's have the less than 1% of people with food allergies determine the policies that the rest of us must follow. Making other people's challenges everyone else's problem is what we do in Oak Park.


Posted: May 25th, 2011 7:42 PM

Now if only the library can do something about those overdue fines. They are outrageous! I never thought I would tell my wife and kids to stop going to the library, but if their bag of books is 4 days late it's $60. Ridiculous!

epic lulz  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 6:23 PM

So pizza's ok as long as we bring it in ourselves? Bad idea. Really bad idea.

OTA from Oak Park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 6:17 PM

How does this protect those with food allergies. Not too long ago, a child was chowing down on a pb & j while in the children's area play fort. Not happy about this.

Janne from Oak Park  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 5:00 PM


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