Breaking News
More () »

Librarians cite issues, demand safety measures at Metro Council meeting

Some of the librarians said something needs to be done because they said you never know what can happen when patrons are asked to leave.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After several dangerous incidents at different library branches across the city, librarians took their safety concerns to Metro Council.

Katherine Scaggs, AFSCME Local 3425 president, said they "felt it is important for our community to invest in our community and in the libraries, and that includes giving us the resources we need to be safe."

In January, the FOCUS team showed a video of a fight at the Shawnee branch library, but it is not the only one facing problems.

"We've had occasional patrons threaten violence," said Linda Thomas, a librarian at the Highlands branch.

Scaggs demanded more safety measures.

"Metro Council members, we bring this to your attention so that you can work with the Mayor's office and help ensure our libraries are safe for workers and members of the public," she said.

Some of the librarians said something needs to be done because they said you never know what can happen when patrons are asked to leave.

"It can be very scary because you wonder if this is the time they will go quietly or is this the time they're going to go after one of us," Thomas said.

In a statement, Nicole George, deputy mayor for Public Health & Services, said "we've taken action."

“The Louisville Free Public Library branches continue to be among the safest, most inclusive, accessible, and family friendly places to visit in our city. We recognize the team members’ concerns, which is why we’ve taken action, hiring a new security firm, installing new cameras, and implementing new incident tracking software all in the past four months. And this summer, we’ll be announcing new youth programming initiatives so our libraries can continue to be welcoming, safe spaces for everyone.”

Since January, the Louisville Free Public Library said an additional guard has been scheduled at the Shawnee branch.

Scaggs questioned that.

"The security situation at the branch is inadequate if there is only one guard. There's a wide upstairs and downstairs, and a parking lot around outside the branch, so it is impossible for one person to cover the entire thing," she said.

Council President Markus Winkler said budget-related items like security cameras and other safety measures will be discussed soon.

"We are discussing the budget, writ large, the libraries part of that budget we will have a specific hearing on the library I think in a couple of weeks," he said.

In the meantime, these librarians are handling more than just checking out books.

Monday, May 15, Shawnee library staff are expected to meet with George and Louisville Metro Police leadership to discuss ways to improve collaboration between police and staff.

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.

Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Before You Leave, Check This Out