Anyone who's ever tried visiting the restroom at the San Francisco Main Library knows that it's basically one of the biggest mistakes of your life. The intensity of the urine stench defies science, the clientele have little demonstrable interest in books, and one intrepid SFist writer saw someone defecate in the sink for no particular reason (other than for, well, you know).
And now, a particularly dispiriting Examiner article that seeks to highlight the library's efforts at keeping said bathrooms tolerable instead hits home the message that the problem is never, ever going away.
According to Roberto Lombardi, director of facilities, there won't be full-time bathroom attendants or user fees, but there will be routine monitoring and overnight cleaning. That's a new concept, apparently. But will hourly maintenance inspections solve the problem?
"You can be there on a given hour and they look perfectly fine," said library chief Luis Herrera. "Within 20 minutes, you go back and it needs maintenance." So for 40 minutes out of every hour, the bathrooms will still be ghastly. Herrera has some good news, though. "There hasn't been a fatal overdose in the bathrooms since 2006." Hurrah!
In 2007, the library took the groundshaking liberty of banning sex, indecent exposure and drug use. That's only 11 years after the new library opened, so there's that. But what about the problem of the toilets constantly clogged with foreign objects?
"We do not have plumbers on staff," stated Lombardi. But here's something, perhaps, to be hopeful about: the library does have "sewage grinders" that "will make handiwork out of cans, books, clothes, you name it." So basically a garbage disposal, but in the toilet.
In conclusion, do not ever, ever attempt use the bathrooms at the Main Library.