Members of the board of directors of the Hartford Public Library acknowledged earlier this month safety and security breaches at the main branch in downtown Hartford and finally managed to promise "a zero-tolerance policy toward inappropriate behavior."
Good for the library directors for their change in tone. Board members and Chief Librarian Louise Blalock had at first seemed more irritated than concerned when a Courant investigation in May detailed incidents of drinking, drug-taking, sex, pornography viewing, threats against the staff and theft at the newly renovated library.
Ms. Blalock and some directors have emphasized that a library should have a welcoming, free and open environment. That's a worthy goal, up to a point. But a library can't have a welcoming, comforting ambience if bad behavior is taking place.
The board still intends to convene a task force that will begin work in July and within 60 days issue recommendations on safety, security and Internet content issues at the library. That's fine. A considered look at security problems will be helpful.
But the board's decision to immediately implement security measures in partnership with Ms. Blalock is necessary. Those include working closely with the Hartford Police Department, communicating clearly with customers as to what is expected of them and providing additional training to staff members.
A theft detection system should also be installed. The library should not provide one-stop shopping for petty crooks who want to walk off with CDs and DVDs.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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