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Vandalism, verbal abuse at some Hawaii public libraries

November 15, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s public libraries need more security to protect patrons and staff from a rise in violence and destruction, officials said.

“The staff has faced verbal abuse, knives pulled out on security guards. There’s been spitting, throwing, destruction of library laptops, physical attacks on staff as they tried to leave work,” State Librarian Stacey Aldrich told the Board of Education.

The board approved Aldrich’s request for an additional $1 million for security last month and the proposal needs approval of Gov. David Ige and the Legislature, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

At some locations, staff members have found human waste smeared on doors, broken windows and their cars scratched and tires slashed, Aldrich said.

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Police ask if there are security cameras to help identify suspects, but but most libraries don’t have cameras, Aldrich said.

“The pandemic seems to have brought out the worst in some people,” said Mallory Fujitani, special assistant in the Office of the State Librarian.

Enforcing the governor’s order requiring library visitors to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test has resulted in some angry confrontations from those who disagree with the rule, Fujitani said.

Library officials ask for cameras at some locations and a new company that can provide guards with higher training.