There tend to be areas in public spaces that the vast majority of the public would probably consider somewhat of a safe haven. A place to go where its quiet, calm, relaxed. A place to get away from the hustle and bustle of ‘the real world’. A place where you don’t have to constantly look over your shoulder and worry about who or what is going on around you.
But are these places becoming fewer and further between?
A public library is a place where one would consider it to be safe. A haven away from society while immersing yourself in it quietly reading the news, or sinking yourself into a good book about centuries past or worlds that may not actually exist. A library is whatever you want it to be – but it is expected to be safe.
However, in today’s modern reality, even libraries are facing the harsh truth about the need to hire security. While some libraries see few or even no need, an increasing number is starting to put aside money for a Security budget. As urban area’s start growing and sprawling out, population expands and more people move in – more different types of people. People of varying opinions and beliefs, people with different strengths and weaknesses. People with or without issues – whatever they may be. As population grows, problems grow.
Mental health is a rising issue, and while most try to keep their issues in check, there are people for many different reasons that have less of a handle on things.
Then there are people that prefer to take a different path in life all together.
Some of these people can cause issues. For themselves – for others. Theres all of a sudden a cause for concern.
This quiet safe haven filled with stories, fairy tales, facts, and fiction, are bearing witness to things that shouldn’t happen anywhere let alone a library.
In some cases, people have ignored notices to keep the volume down, and once approached, they turn volatile. Shouting, even assaulting librarians.
In other cases, the actual location of the library proves to be an issue. With violent outbreaks – shootings, stabbings, fights and what have you, in areas nearby. The proximity is enough to cause concern for unwitting patrons of the library.
In more urban areas where these issues exist or are starting to bring cause for concern, security is already implemented and in some cases, has been there for years. Guards becoming fixtures of the library themselves. Some being full time or part time staff of the library itself, while others are contracted out.
In more rural areas where these situations are fewer and further between, while the topic of security may eventually come up, the need isn’t as great and money in the budget is utilized for other resources that serve a greater purpose for the foundation of the library. There are people that are for security at all costs – but at what expense?
A lot of librarians are typically trained, prepared, or grow to handle the diverse clientele that walk through their doors. As library’s are a public space, and thought to be safe, they can be a resting place for the homeless or people with mental health issues. If in the event something happens, they know how or when to step in, or when to call for back up. They quickly become mediators and councillors… sometimes stepping in and just showing that they are watching and listening – and in that sense they care – sometimes this can be enough to defuse a situation. They become security all on their own in a blink of an eye.
Once the situation has passed and everything has been cleared up, they debrief – much like any security team – and they talk about how things were handled, why, and if they could do anything differently the next time.
Why pay for a service when you can handle it yourself?
This is where a threat risk assessment would come into play. But at the risk of an annual dust up or something minor, money could be better spent on books – for now. But as problems grow, so do Security budgets. While a trained librarian can do wonders, sometimes a little back up is a welcome resource.
Guest Blogger Rayna Davies
Rayna Davies is a graduate and practitioner of Business Management. She has developed an expertise in blogging, covering subjects like travel, world events and security. Having grown up with a father who has developed an expertise in Physical Security and Executive Protection in the RCMP and two major corporations, she has personally observed and experienced many security details. These experiences have included personally meeting HM Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and many celebrities. She presently assists Sentinel Security in Executive Protection workshops and guest blogging and also assists Gloprosec Preventative Services in Intelligence gathering and Business Administration. Her passions include World travel, having visited every continent. She currently is on maternity leave and providing daily close protection for a baby and a toddler and spending time with her husband who is a Police Officer.