Keep it down, we're reading

Books in the stacks at the Calhoun Street branch of the Charleston County Library. (Grace Beahm/File)

Libraries have long served as serene sanctuaries from the noisy hubbub outside their walls. And even in this era of libraries providing Internet access and videos while (horrors!) reducing their numbers of books, they should remain places of reading, study, reflection - and quiet.

Thus, the people who run libraries should have the authority to order anybody disrupting those worthy purposes to leave.

The S.C. House of Representatives rightly re-affirmed that logical concept during a special session Wednesday, overriding Gov. Nikki Haley's puzzling veto of a bill that bans unruly library conduct while strengthening librarians' power to evict such rude violators.

The governor's veto message on that bill dubiously cited "the interest of preserving due process and maintaining the spirit of true public use for publicly funded facilities."

But the "true public use" of a library is undermined by disruptive behavior.

As for "due process," anybody legally charged with unruly conduct in a library retains the right to contest that accusation in court - and the right to appeal to the library board for a hearing on any extended prohibition from the facilities.

There are concerns about the increased likelihood of homeless people being expelled from public libraries. But anyone who minds his manners shouldn't be threatened by this law.

OK, so overriding Gov. Haley's veto of that library bill didn't sound like a good enough reason for House Speaker Bobby Harrell to have called that special session at a cost of roughly $34,000.

Neither did an attempt to override her veto of legislation that would have allowed a fire district in Murrells Inlet to raise property taxes. The House voted 58-49 on Wednesday to sustain it.

Still, while it's a shame that we need a library-conduct law, it's reassuring to know that the General Assembly has re-affirmed librarians' practical prerogative to eject disruptive "patrons" from their premises.

And lest you run afoul of this new law, keep these two words in mind while in the library:

Quiet, please.