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W.Va. Library System to Limit Personal Belongings

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A West Virginia public library system will soon limit the number of personal items patrons can bring into facilities.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that starting Feb. 1, the Kanawha County Public Library system will limit patrons to three bags and will ban wheeled devices with some exceptions, including wheelchairs and strollers.

The policy comes after people flocked to warming centers and city recreation centers to escape cold temperatures, but library system officials said it doesn't target homeless people.

Library system Director Alan Engelbert said homeless people do bring in numerous personal items, but so do other patrons.

"We frequently have people bringing large amounts of personal items into the library, and it was getting to be basically a health, safety and comfort issue for both the staff and patrons, so we're just attempting to manage a situation that has proven to be problematic over the years," Engelbert said.

Library system board President Monika Jaensson said she believes others from the system have spoken with local shelters and thinks the city and other shelters are working to find a place for homeless people to store their baggage.

The policy also follows last week's meetings by homeless service providers and city and county emergency officials to create provisional warming shelter opening procedures.

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