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The library mirrors the population of the city, but here everyone is sharing chairs. They can — and they do — so long as they don’t impose on others using the space.“Share the Chair” signs mark popular seating areas, and indicate a ninety-minute cap on tables and chairs.Enter the library intoxicated and you’ll get a talking to — the warning — and be asked to leave for the day.Petrovich understands that “everybody gonna have booze and come in library.” But if drunkards try to come in again and again, they’ll be met with less and less compassion.
But it’s bright and warm inside, and has a pulsing, breathing life of its own. If that’s the case, then the library staff is like a small civil-service division.
There’s also an array of security accouterments holstered to Petrovich’s belt: flashlight, baton, handcuffs and pepper spray. Petrovich moves through the library with an assertive military posture.
Petrovich, thirty-six, is one of a handful of full-time security guards at the library, but he’s the only one adorned like this. It’s easy to imagine him as a young sergeant in the military out on patrol, in charge of others.
He grew up in what was then the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a conglomerate of six republics on the Balkan Peninsula including Serbia, his motherland.
It was his dream to become a police officer, but his family preferred the prestige of the military.