Hawaii’s library staff harassed over COVID vaccine policy

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A plea for help from the State librarian — please show respect and kindness to the staff.

She said workers have been harassed by those who do not agree with the State’s policy to only allow vaccinated people inside.

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What is normally a refuge for peace and tranquility has been a source of conflict and rude behavior. Public libraries, like other State facilities, have required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for people to get inside since Monday, Sept. 13.

“Sometimes folks are being a little bit abusive to our staff, swearing at them, calling them names, spitting at them. We’ve had a member’s car scratched and we really need people’s kokua,” said Stacey Aldrich, Hawaii State librarian.

Aldrich said there has been dozens of incidents and they are not in any particular area. The problem occurs in many of the branches statewide.

“It’s a little shocking because we’re a library, we’re here to help and support people. And we know it’s a difficult time, we know people have different opinions and we respect that,” she said.

Aldrich pointed out that staff are willing to go out of their way to help those who can not go inside the libraries by bringing materials to the door.

“If you need access to the internet or a computer, we have Chromebooks that you can check out and you can sit outside and use the Chromebook,” she said.

Aldrich said many others are in favor of the restrictions and said they feel safer about being in the facility. Workers understand that there are strong opinions on both sides, but they are just doing their jobs.

“You get free stuff at the library! I mean we’re open, we’ll help you find whatever you need,” said Aldrich.

She is not sure if more security is the answer. The hope is that cooler heads prevail and for people not to take their frustration out on those providing the services.

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“The library is for everybody and we want to make sure that everybody has access in some way or another, even with the current requirements, and we just hope everybody will support the library,” Aldrich said.

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