Page last updated at 09:03 GMT, Friday, 30 December 2005

Dallas bad smell ban sparks row

Library shelves
The American Library Association supports the move

A rule that will allow public libraries in the US city of Dallas to ban people who are considered to smell badly has drawn criticism by charity groups.

Under the guidelines, which come into force in February, sleeping, eating, loud talking, fighting, bare feet, sex and washing will also be banned.

Officials say the moves aim to provide a better environment for library users.

But charity workers say the plans unfairly target Dallas' poor and homeless people.

The rules follow complaints by library patrons over homeless people using the downtown public library for washing in the toilets or loitering outside.

Lack of facilities

Dallas library Director Laurie Evans said the intention was to create a welcoming environment for library users.

"They deserve to be comfortable, they deserve to feel welcomed in public buildings," he told the AP news agency.

He added library employees would be trained to implement the new regulations consistently.

Violations of the rules would be addressed on a case-by-case basis, he said.

The American Library Association has supported the change.

"If people can't take care of basic hygiene and are disturbing to the 100 or so people around them, then it's perfectly acceptable for the library to say, 'Will you please sit somewhere else?'", Leslie Burger, president-elect of the association told AP.

But charity groups say the ruling discriminates against homeless people, who already suffer from a lack of facilities in the city.

James Waghorne, a Dallas homeless advocate, said the city did not provide enough washing facilities for the homeless.

Homeless people often need libraries for resources they cannot get elsewhere, he said.

Libraries across the United States, including Redwood City, California, Boston and Houston have adopted similar policies.

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