Schaumburg library critic fighting cafe's closure banned after complaint from patron

  • A critic of the Schaumburg Township District Library's decision to close its cafe has been banned from the library for a year after another patron complained about him video recording an interview with a 13-year-old girl inside the central library in Schaumburg.

      A critic of the Schaumburg Township District Library's decision to close its cafe has been banned from the library for a year after another patron complained about him video recording an interview with a 13-year-old girl inside the central library in Schaumburg. Eric Peterson | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/31/2019 5:17 PM

A critic of the Schaumburg Township District Library's decision to close its cafe has been banned from the library for a year, after another man complained he video recorded an interview with his 13-year-old daughter in the library without permission, officials say.

Walter Lee said he received a letter Monday from library Executive Director Annie Miskewitch informing him he's barred from all three district facilities for violating a code of conduct when interviewing fellow patrons on camera Dec. 27 at the central library in Schaumburg.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The letter also notified Lee of his right to appeal the decision to the board of trustees' disciplinary committee.

Lee said he had been interviewing and recording groups of patrons, including teens, about their support for the 22-year-old cafe, in hopes their comments would persuade library trustees to keep it open beyond its scheduled closure on New Year's Eve.

He denied doing anything inappropriate and said he believes library officials are trying to shut down his efforts.

"There's no age restriction for these kids to tell you why they want the cafe to stay," Lee said. "When people talk, you listen."

Lee and his attorney intend to challenge the ban.

"We all know that it's ridiculous," Lee said.

Library board President Anita Forte-Scott said the ban is based on the complaint of a father she described as extremely unhappy that Lee approached his 13-year-old daughter and asked her questions on camera.

"He just felt his daughter was very unsafe," Forte-Scott said.

Officials have no desire to stop Lee from gathering support for the cafe, as long as he does not approach patrons inside the library, she said.

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"His actions alone constituted his exclusion," Forte-Scott said of Lee. "Up until that point, we had not interfered with the things that he was doing."

Forte-Scott said Lee was given the letter notifying him of the ban when he visited the library Monday. When he returned later Monday and questioned security guards' authority to ask him to leave, three Schaumburg police officers arrived to escort him from the building, she said.

Though the cafe is closing in preparation for the space's first major overhaul since the library's 1998 opening, Forte-Scott said it would return in a different form as a place where patrons could consume food.

Options being considered include vending machines as well as fresh food service occasionally provided by not-for-profits or local restaurants, Forte-Scott said.

During the renovation, food can be consumed in the already renovated Workshop space on the first floor.

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