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Flower Memorial Library plans to increase security

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Security officers, panic buttons and security cameras: these are all on Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library’s wish list for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Trustee Stephen W. Gebo addressed the security measures librarians and clerks asked for in a needs assessment survey during the library’s board of trustees meeting Tuesday.

“I put protecting our staff members first,” he said. “I think we have to remember our staff, with the exception of maintenance, is exclusively female.”

He said the results of the survey were “eye opening.” Staff members asked for more security in the form of cameras, an officer and panic buttons as precautionary measures.

Training staff how to deal with aggressive or uncooperative patrons, which is on the library’s long-term plan approved in December, also would make librarians feel safer inside the building, Mr. Gebo said.

“We are certainly going to have to consider bodyguards,” he said. “A security presence here will deter a lot of the things, probably. The security guards would, of course, be our biggest expense.”

At an August Watertown City Council meeting, library officials said part-time security could cost as much as $37,000.

City police now walk through the building once a day.

Ms. Wheeler said there has not yet been an incident where a panic button would have helped the situation. In previous interviews, she said the library is trying to be proactive.

“We’ve had patrons maybe throw things at (staff) in anger, but no assaults,” she said. “We have a little amount of staff for a 40,000-square-foot building. It would be hard for a staff member in an isolated part of the building to get help if they needed it.”

Although Mr. Gebo did not tally the total amount needed for a security project, there is not enough money to fund the proposed security measures in the current budget, according to Ms. Wheeler. When the budget was created a year ago, the trustees were just beginning to form the security committee.

“We wanted to decide the need in order to bolster our argument,” she said.

Ms. Wheeler plans to take the needs assessment survey to City Manager Sharon A. Addison today.

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