Lately, I’ve heard second-hand that there are people in the community who feel that their public library has become an unsafe environment. It seems that these people are afraid to address me directly with their concerns and so I hope that this serves to set the record straight.
In five years, the Carnegie Public Library has had a total of 58 incidents that warranted written reports. These incidents were committed by about 30 people.
In those five years, only four patrons have had their library privileges revoked indefinitely and only a handful of incidents have warranted police or ambulance intervention. There is a small margin of error with this data, as some minor incidents are resolved without written reports.
For every one incident per month in the past five years, there are 4,500 non-incidents, or other visits to the library.
What do those patrons do while they’re here? Sometimes they seek help finding a job, or they use the Internet to connect with family and friends. Toddlers and parents attend our “Tuesday’s Tots” program, where they sing and rhyme, play with toys, and learn to socialize. Tourists and newcomers stop here first, where they explore archives of some of Trinidad’s most prized historical resources. They check out books or movies, they grow their business, they study for school, they learn how to knit, they receive free legal help and they print and send important documents.
But our patrons do not often bully, shout, or threaten violence. Why? Because they need our services, and they respect our shared space.
One of the greatest things about the public library is its power to bring people together from diverse backgrounds. We are all welcome to use library services in the same ways.
Please do not equate behaviors associated with mental illness as inherently dangerous. Do not equate homelessness with criminality and do not be afraid of people who aren’t exactly like you.
I’m not suggesting that the community or the library doesn’t have challenges but the solution is to expand the social safety net of services for all Trinidad’s citizens.
The Carnegie Public Library is here to serve everyone with dignity and respect. In fact, the library team has five key values that we work to uphold everyday: Public good, adaptability, compassion, education and service to all.
We really do mean everyone. From babies to seniors, rich or poor, homeless or housed, black or white, LGBTQI or hetero, you are welcome at the library.
If you feel unsafe at the library, please talk to me directly, so that our dedicated staff can work to address your concerns.
Incidents warranting written reports at the CPL since 2014 (5 years)
Sleeping (snoring as to be disruptive): 4
Verbal Disputes between Patrons (Shouting): 7
Health Concern/Paramedics: 2
Building Trouble (roof leak): 1
Loose Dogs: 3
Ignoring basic library rules (like leaving laptops unattended): 10
Threats of Violence: 1
Public Intoxication (Alcohol): 4
Public Intoxication (Suspected Drug Use): 1
Vandalism/Messes (to include peanut butter in book drop): 5