Mr Maguire is staying at an Inglewood crisis centre and has proof of his temporary address, but library staff told him that he could not sign up for membership at the Inglewood Library because residents at the centre had a ‘bad track record’ of returning books.
The City of Stirling told the Guardian Express that the decision was part of a long-standing library membership policy that was consistent with other public libraries across WA.
Mr Maguire is a qualified forklift driver and recently moved to WA from NSW.
He is unable to work until the end of this year because of a health condition.
‘I live day to day. It’s not easy,’ Mr Maguire said.
‘When I moved here I knew no one, knew nothing about Perth, had no money in my pocket. It was very scary.’
Mr Maguire said he did not expect to have any issues signing up at the library once he could prove he was living at the crisis centre.
‘I felt very ordinary when they told me I couldn’t sign up. They put two and two together and realised I was homeless,’ he said.
‘There is a stigma based on where you live but I think everyone should be treated on their individual merits.’
City of Stirling library services manager Viv Barton said a permanent address and a second contact in WA were required for membership.
‘Patrons unable to provide this information can join as a temporary library member for a refundable $50 fee upon proof of permanent address, or join as an e-member for free and be able to use the computer equipment and resources and read in the library,’ she said.
Crisis centre manager Nick said when Mr Maguire returned from the library he was visibly deflated.
‘So I called the library and they said he could pay a $50 deposit to borrow books and DVDs,’ Nick said.
‘For a homeless person, $50 is a bloody fortune.’
Anglicare WA Street Connect co-ordinator Esben Kaas-Sorensen said he was not aware of the policy but he could sympathise with the library.
‘I would recommend the library looks at its policy; it could take some leadership on this,’ Mr Kaas-Sorensen said.
‘The library is a place that groups in society are using because they cannot afford the luxury of buying books.’