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Portland Library Board To Discuss Behavior Policy - Possible Visits By 'Furries' Sparks Debate

Here's a rather curious article in the Hartford Courant, written by Katherine Ogden and dated September 13:
http://www.courant.com/community/portland/hc-portland-library-meeting-20120913,0,571510.story

Apparently furries (fursuiters, in particular) have been visiting public libraries recently, which has prompted Janet Nocek (director of the Portland Library in Portland, Connecticut) to ask the board of directors to review its behavior policy. In particular, to make sure board members and staff were aware of library rules which prohibit visits from people in disguise, or with head coverings other than religious.

Portland Library Board To Discuss Behavior Policy
Possible Visits By 'Furries' Sparks Debate

By KATHERINE OGDEN, Special to the Courant The Hartford Courant

10:57 a.m. EDT, September 13, 2012
PORTLAND –—

People who cover their faces for religious reasons are welcome to enjoy the Portland Library, but folks who might want to visit dressed up as an otter, bear or other furry animal might run afoul of the rules.

So says library Director Janet Nocek, who is asking the board of directors to review its behavior policy in light of recent visits to other libraries by "furries" — people who dress up in costumes and visit public places.

"Face coverings at the library are not permitted except for religious reasons," Nocek said.

Furries, as they are nicknamed, are people who like to don fur suits or other costumes and otherwise remake themselves into an animals that have human characteristics. Devotees enjoy a thriving community both on online and in the real world – annual conventions are now held in Pittsburgh, Pa., after outgrowing the venue in Albany, N.Y.

The trend may be gaining ground after members of Taylor Swift's band dressed up as furry mascots when they performed at the MTV Video Music Awards earlier this month. Such mascots have also appeared in Swift's videos.

"I had never heard of it," Nocek said. "I looked it up on the Internet."

So far, furries have not visited the Portland library, but Nocek said she decided to make board members and staff aware of library rules after the issue came up elsewhere. She said library policy prohibits visits from people in disguise, or with head coverings other than religious.

Nocek said she wants to head off any potential problems before they arise, such as a person hanging around in the children's room looking cute. A child or family at the library might mistakenly think a person dressed in a costume was part of a library program.

"They might look enticing to children," Nocek said. "I just thought we best discuss it, before anyone gets surprised, to make sure we are on the same page. "

The meeting is tonight at 7 at Portland Library, 20 Freestone Ave.
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