Picture this: You’re reading a book from the library, and your friend offers you a nutty candy bar. You don’t think twice about how, even if you wipe your hands on your pants or a napkin, the book itself will still be contaminated for the next person. You can’t see the allergens anywhere on the book. You don’t even know they’re there.
This is what cross-contamination looks, sounds, and is like.
I support libraries, but I can’t use them without taking a risk. I’ve a love/hate relationship with discussions encouraging people to use libraries instead of shopping, to buy used books instead of new.
It’s ableist, ignorant, and frustrating — and I don’t even care enough anymore to argue my point, to say that libraries are full of allergens. Maybe it’s not food, but dust mites. Or dust in general. Or it’s bed bugs and you’ve got bed bug PTSD. Or it’s a sensory thing, in that you can’t stand the smell of the books or that plastic binding. And you can’t sanitize the books, and you have a limited amount of time to read them, and you can’t keep it for eternity.
For me, it’s everything.
For me, it’s accepting that I might need an ambulance ride (expensive) after using one or both epinephrine injectors ($282 for both) so the emergency room (even more expensive) can monitor my vitals and ensure that I’m okay — and then prescribe me steroids and replacement epinephrine injectors.
It’s a lot to expect someone to take a chance on.
You can put up allergy signage, and people are still going to fight the allergy-free rules. There’s always going to be someone whose allergy is not accommodated, who wonders why their rarer allergy (e.g. potato) is not viewed as important as the nut allergies. Mostly, though, there will be an entire conservative mom group who thinks your life-threatening allergy is your problem and that you’re a snowflake for wanting a safe space to read books.
I don’t use libraries. I don’t see myself using one in the future.