The Austin, Texas City Council is taking security at the Austin Public Library seriously these days. On the Monday before Christmas, they voted to approve nearly $12,000 of city contingency funds to go towards new security cameras for the building.
The library already has four cameras in place and director Ann Hokanson says the system allows library staff to identify people who might be causing problems. She also believes they deter other would-be troublemakers.
While theft and vandalism are not a huge problem at the Austin Public library, they do occur and can be very troublesome to staff and patrons. For example, in June of 2009, a 3×2 antique map from the 1800’s was stolen from a wall above a drinking fountain in the library and no one has been caught in the case. More cameras inside and around the building could prevent future thefts or help authorities catch anyone who decides to commit a crime in the future.
Hokanson says confrontations inside the library’s computer lab can also be a problem, as well as bicycle theft and other incidents outside. “We get an incident report maybe once a month or two. Probably the most disturbing of the incidents was some hateful vandalism on one of our employee’s cars,” she said, referring to an incident where a library employee’s car had vulgar language scratched onto it, along with having the mirrors broken.
As an editorial in the Austin Post-Bulletin points out, “If there’s one place where kids and adults should be able to go without fear, it’s the library.”
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