‘Hot spots for abuse’: Uptick in ‘traumatic’ encounters at libraries

  • Libraries have become hotspots for homeless, migrants, drugs
  • Report: Librarians feel more unsafe than ever
  • Consultant: Libraries' open access puts 'enormous pressure' on staff

(NewsNation) — An uptick in “traumatic” encounters in libraries across the nation is forcing librarians to navigate dangerous situations they aren’t properly trained for.

While these public institutions are open to everyone, new reports say these buildings have become hot spots for the homeless, migrants and people with drug addiction.

Librarians have reported they are often faced with verbal abuse, racy situations, dangerous confrontations and mental health crises, especially in states like Colorado, Oregon and California.

“We are seeing an uptick in incidents at all of our libraries and it’s a trend happening all across the country,” Contra Costa County Library spokesperson Brooke Converse told NewsNation.

She continued, “There were threats to staff and library property. There was damage to staff and library property multiple times, including things being set on fire.

The concerns have become so widespread that the Oakland Public Library reportedly hired a mediation consultant to address those safety concerns and low morale.

For a year, the mediator, Joseph Maurer, studied 18 branches and interviewed 50 employees. His internal report, published by The Oaklandside, revealed library staff feel more unsafe now than ever before.

While some libraries are worse than others, Maurer found overwhelming evidence of low morale and employees feeling increasingly unsafe with a lack of tools and support.

Maurer said the libraries’ open access puts “enormous pressure” on staff, saying they feel stress and strain when handling unpredictable emergencies brought into the library by people with mental and emotional health issues.

NewsNation reached out to several Oakland branch managers to confirm the report but has not yet received a response.

As local audits reveal librarians face serious security threats, overdoses and suicides as part of their normal day, the American Library Association has denounced any violence and intimidation at libraries across the U.S.


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