My mother, who would have been 96 this week, spent more than four decades as a librarian, first in a high school and then in a public library. As a teen, I spent a couple of years working part-time at our local library, shelving books and assisting the librarians in any ways I could.

I’ve also known several other people who served in that fine profession. Above and beyond cataloging and checking out material, they recommended books and music and movies to patrons. They helped students find resources needed for essays and other homework. They taught visitors how to retrieve periodicals off microfilm and microfiche. And, more recently, they offered instruction in the basics of using all sorts of digital devices.

Everyone I’ve ever known who has worked in a library did it because they wanted to help people learn new things. None of them ever got rich from the job. And through the years, they weren’t simply serving as providers of information, but also of social¬†services that should be the responsibilities of other institutions.

That’s why I was so incensed when I read this Twitter thread by Anne, a librarian in Miami-Dade, Florida. In it, she details the difficulties of reopening a public library during the COVID-19 crisis and trying to create a safe atmosphere for both staff and patrons.

But Anne and her colleagues have been repeatedly frustrated by people who refuse to wear masks, insist on using computers that have been turned off to ensure social distancing, or even ignore arrows on the floor telling them which way to walk to access the various services the library offers. Before you jump to conclusions, Anne says the biggest offenders are not homeless or low-income people — the problem is entitled, upper-middle-class patrons. Add to that those who dismiss the coronavirus as a hoax or refuse to care about anyone but themselves or see everything as a political conspiracy, and you can imagine the strain on an already-beleaguered library staff that has no power to eject violators while being ignored and verbally abused.

Here are just a few entries in Anne’s thread:

That’s just a small sample. Read more here.