Public library system requests funding for security guards in all branches

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An effort to make our public libraries safer for families is nearing the finish line.

The Hawaii State Public Library System is asking lawmakers for money to hire more security guards. If approved, all 50 public libraries statewide would have at least one security guard on duty during regular business hours.

At the main Hawaii State Library branch on King Street, at least one security guard is on duty from open to close.

If the library system’s $387,000 budget request passes, there will be guards at every library in the state.

Keith Fujio, special assistant to the state librarian, says if it passes, guards could be put in place right away.

“It could take effect immediately, because we already have an ongoing security contract with the private vendor and it allows for us to add additional security hours at all of our locations,” Fujio said.

The state says getting security into all of the libraries has been a long time coming.

Marya Zoller, Hawaii State Library director, says it’s all about keeping people that visit the library safe.

“It’s very helpful like when we have trespassing incidents, mostly just people being extremely disruptive and just not willing to comply with our request to calm down or to stop trying to punch the other guy,” Zoller explained.

KHON2 asked Fujio if the request was in response to an issue with homeless people using the library bathroom facilities, and whether or not that issue had gotten any better.

“I don’t think it’s been any more prevalent than it has been over the last several years,” Fujio replied. “The disruptions that we have are not all from homeless people.”

Fujio says he’s optimistic this budget proposal will go through as it’s already passed in the House, and has gotten strong support from the governor.

“If it passes the Senate ways and means committee on their draft, then it’s a done deal,” he said.

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