Friday, May 22, 2009

Security Guards at your Local Library?

I haven't revisited the Binghamton shooting of April 3 recently in my blog (13 dead plus the gunman) although I can assure you that it is far from forgotten.

Here is one of the little ways that concern over personal safety whittles away our personal freedoms. Remember the story about how you can boil someone alive by putting them into ice cold water and then turning up the heat ever sooooooooooooo slowly and they won't notice until it is too late?

Last month, in an incident totally unrelated to the shooting, our county office building ended up unusable for a month due to an accidental discharge of dust and the resulting cleanup.

The offices in that building had to be moved temporarily. One of the temporary locations was the Broome County Library on the edge of downtown Binghamton. As a certified bookworm, I go there at least once a week.

One day I entered, and to my total surprise (there were signs on the door, but I ignored them) there were security guards in the lobby, and a metal detector. What a pain (I thought) as I had to empty my pockets, have my pocketbook searched, etc. and then go through the scanner. All this to get out a couple of books?

The reason the guards were there was because of the relocated offices; they were giving these offices the same security as the county office building enjoyed.

However, over the next month of security at the library, a couple of interesting things happened. First (and I have to mention, this library is not in, shall we say, Binghamton's best neighborhood-sorry, downtown boosters) the guards found an interesting assortment of objects on some people trying to enter the library. And I don't mean library cards.

Second (and this I found out through speaking with one of the librarians), there had been a lot of incidents there-incidents that had many of the staff somewhat concerned about their personal safety. Suddenly, no more incidents. (I have to note here that even before the lobby guards, they did have a guard circulating through the building. But apparently that wasn't a deterrent for those bent on trouble.)

Third and last, to my horror, I found out that a certain person had used the library computers on more than one occasion. Because the computer records are wiped we'll never know what this person was using his local library for. Yes, it was the April 3 mass murderer of innocents, Jiverly Wong. And who knows if he was carrying more than his library card? And what would have happened if he didn't like something there?

Overall, the librarians were feeling a whole lot safer, and I have to admit that I was feeling a whole lot safer, too.

One day I went to the library and there were moving men carrying boxes out-our county offices were leaving. The next day, the lobby security guards and their metal detector left too.

I wrote a customer comment form asking for them back. It's probably not going to happen. I forget the figure given to get them back, I think it was somewhere around $36,000.

Just think. I want them back. I want someone screening everyone before we enter the local public library. Know that pot we live in? Turn up the heat a notch.....

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