Fay Lambert is refusing to doff her hat at the library. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE

DON FARMER
Don.farmer@age.co.nz

When Fay Lambert, 78, left Masterton Library on Monday she was far from happy, and it was all to do with wearing a bright pink hat.

Fay took strong objection to a demand by library staff she take off the hat, and has now decided to dig her toes in and return –  with her pink hat firmly on her head.

The library has a no-hats policy, designed to allow security cameras to identify would-be thieves and discourage them from operating in the building.

Retired but super active and computer savvy, Fay said yesterday she had been comfortably seated in front of a screen at the library on Monday when she was approached by a young staff member.

“She ordered me to take my cap off without giving me any explanation.

“I was so angry I refused so she went and got an older woman who told me hats were not to be worn.

“I said to her what about her – my friend who was sitting opposite me with a woollen hat on – which I probably shouldn’t have said, she might not speak to me now.

“There was also a young man sitting next to me and he had a hoodie on.

“I think they are probably scared of young people with hoods, but not of me,” Fay said.

A confirmed reader and library visitor, Fay said she was brought up in an age when women wore hats.

“I was wearing a beret at school and women wore hats everywhere, including when they were inside shops or offices, although men took their hats off.

“My cap is part of me. I wear it most of the time so when the librarians tried to give me a lecture I got really angry.”

So angry, in fact, she went from the library to the Masterton Police Station to bring them up to speed on what had happened, and to try and determine the likely outcome if she was to return with the hat still on.

“The policewoman said she wouldn’t advise me to do that.

“She said every organisation is entitled to set its own rules and that I could perhaps approach the mayor about it,” Fay said.

She said she was aware there was a notice on the door banning hat wearing but believed her cap was innocuous and posed absolutely no threat.

“There’s no way I could hide a pistol under it.”

Library manager Sandy Green said the young staff member had reported to her that a woman had refused to obey the no-hats rule.

By the time Mrs Green approached Fay the hat had been taken off “and thrown on the floor”.

“I picked the hat up and put it on her coat and told her I was sorry but it was all to do with consistency.”

Mrs Green said just that morning at a staff meeting there had been talk of applying library rules with consistency.

She said the no-hats, scarves and hoodies rule was designed as much to protect those using the library as anything else.

Security cameras were more likely to ID people who may attempt to steal books, wallets and other items from customers.

She said Fay’s friend wearing the woollen hat had complied with the rules when asked to remove her hat.

As for a young man wearing a hoodie, Mrs Green said she was not aware of that but would check the security camera footage to see if that had been the case.