Safety and Security. Two words people might not consider when they think about a public library, unless you work at a public library! In the larger metropolis of Grand Island there is a sign posted in the bathrooms prohibiting bathing and doing laundry. Violators of this policy may lose their library privileges. This isn’t a joke-this is a real concern in their community. While most of our visitors don’t violate these types of rules, due to the proximity of our town at the crossroads of two major highways, we see a lot of characters passing through. People have taken naps and have stolen toilet paper and maps. Sometimes a book goes missing, but that happens. When the Director finds herself asking someone if she can move their trash bags out of the way so the Lego Kids can walk through, it’s a concern. When a visiting patron gives too much attention to our staff members, this is a concern.
The library is a place for the vulnerable. It’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We have water to drink and a clean bathroom. It’s a place where people can use the computers, something you can’t do while out on the road. Not everyone owns smart phones. Not everyone has internet in their homes. The library was created to serve all people. However, we live in a world where the thoughtful use of a space can help prevent harmful things from happening.
Although the library has two entrances, the staff is unable to see either entrance from the circulation desk or from most areas of the building. There isn’t a line of site to the children’s section as this sits in the addition to the other side of the building. If a patron enters the building from the East door and walks directly into the children’s section, the staff have no idea who has entered the building. If a patron enters through either door and quickly makes their way behind the stacks and moves around the perimeter of the stacks, the staff can not see who has entered the building.
When people enter through the East door, they often approach the door of the Director’s office, as it is confusing for first time users of the library. There is only one door to the office, no way for the Director to see who is entering and no way to exit. There have been times when upset patrons step into the doorway of the office to speak with the Director regarding a complaint, again with no way for the person in the office to exit this room. Safety and Security. Two words that are essential in the design of public places. We’d like to address some of these concerns during our Open House which is scheduled on October 9th from 4-6 PM.