"It’s sad. It’s symptomatic of society."
That’s how Lewiston Public Library Director Rick Speer feels about recent security issues at the downtown library. He says over the last year, there’s been an uptick in "mental health and drug-related" incidents.
Speer says his staff has found bags of needles in the bathroom. There have been loud outburst from "unstable" adults. They’ve had to call police, requesting patrons be escorted out of the building.
"This isn’t what I signed up for, and it’s not what my staff signed up for," he said.
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Speer says the library needs more security. He would like to have more library monitors, or trained security staff, patrolling the building. It will cost about $12,000 more each year.
"We need this extra support," said Speer. The Lewiston City Council is considering this funding in the city budget, and could vote on it this month.
"I’m sure there are problems, so added security would be great," said patron Betty Morrell, who brought her grandson to a reading program Tuesday.
"I’m not happy about it, but [added security] does make me feel safer," said father Michael Gemerus, who regularly brings his young daughter to the library.
The Lewiston library isn’t the only public library considering added security. The Biddeford Library is reportedly seeking security from an outside firm. The Portland Library has a full-time security staff.
Speer said if the funding is approved, he could add more monitors by July.