Bright pink hat banned from li­brary

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - JACK BAR­LOW

A li­brary’s ban on young users in hood­ies and base­ball caps has net­ted an un­likely sus­pect – a 78-year-old in a bright pink hat.

Fay Lam­bert was out­raged at be­ing told to re­move her beloved head­wear as she sat at one of Master­ton District Li­brary’s com­put­ers this week.

She was so up­set she hurled her hat to the floor and, after a se­nior li­brar­ian con­firmed the ban, she stormed out.

‘‘I was fu­ri­ous. I pointed at my friend, who was sit­ting across from me and wear­ing her hat, and said, ‘What about her?’ ‘‘

She even called the po­lice sta­tion to see what would hap­pen if she re­fused to take her hat off in the li­brary in the fu­ture.

‘‘[The of­fi­cer] said that ev­ery es­tab­lish­ment has their own rules, and I sug­gest you fol­low them,’’ Lam­bert said.

The li­brary be­gan its hat ban in 2013, a year after the in­tro­duc­tion of in­ter­net-equipped com­put­ers at­tracted what man­ager Sandy Green called an ‘‘un­savoury el­e­ment’’.

Crime shot up, and li­brary staff faced in­tim­i­da­tion al­most daily, Green said.

‘‘We were get­ting a lot of com­plaints. There were kids in hood­ies hang­ing around out­side the door and pre­vent­ing peo­ple from get­ting in, and they were even in­tim­i­dat­ing peo­ple in­side.’’

Hats were banned so peo­ple could be iden­ti­fied on se­cu­rity cam­eras. Green said the rule had to be ap­plied across the board, in or­der for no one group to com­plain about dis­crim­i­na­tion.

There was some dis­cre­tion al­lowed: cancer pa­tients, or peo­ple wear­ing hats for re­li­gious rea­sons, would be al­lowed to keep their hats on.

It was the first time Lam­bert, a reg­u­lar at the li­brary, had been asked to re­move her hat, and she said there was a teenager across the ta­ble from her at the time who was wear­ing a hoodie.

‘‘I was en­raged, be­cause it just felt so dis­em­pow­er­ing.’’

No other li­braries in Wairarapa have poli­cies ban­ning hats, and nor does Welling­ton.

But Green said that, since Master­ton’s cam­eras were in­stalled and hats banned, crime had dras­ti­cally fallen, and staff and pa­trons felt much safer.

Some hat-wear­ing teenagers out­side the li­brary sup­ported the ban. Monaro King, 13, said on Wed­nes­day: ‘‘I mean, when you go in there, some­one in a hat might steal some­thing and they won’t know who did it.

‘‘I think it’s a good idea.’’

PIERS FULLER/ STUFF

Fay Lam­bert in her favourite pink hat

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