Although funding for security at Gilbert’s two public libraries has been restored, the town is exploring its options before adding personnel.
At a study session earlier this week, the Town Council was briefed on an action plan that included library staff training, increased police walk-throughs and exploration of additional security cameras. Returning security guards to the facilities — the Southeast Regional Library and Perry branch library — is a possibility, mayor John Lewis said.
“From the study session, my feeling is that we have set the policy — safety — and we have professionals in the town who have provided options, and we’ll start working through them,” Lewis said. “If one doesn’t provide the results we want, we’ll move on to the next one. Having two security officers there is still being considered, but we’ll take a systematic approach and gather more data.”
Budget cuts resulted in the guards’ elimination in July. Between then and April, library staff logged 14 incidents ranging from disagreements regarding fines, verbal abuse of staff, inappropriate use of computers and material theft. Community services director Jim Norman said his office was not notified of the incidents until May.
“The biggest thing for me was to go from July until May and not hear anything from anyone in the library system. That makes me think, ‘How bad was it?’ ” Norman said. “But I cannot negate that. I don’t think the Council is, either.
“Because it is close to the end of the fiscal year and with a new Council coming in, there is a lot to absorb.”
The libraries are part of the Maricopa County Library District. Under terms of a five-year agreement that began in July 2006, the town pays operating costs for the Southeast Regional Library, 775 N. Greenfield Road, and reimburses the county for costs for the Perry branch, 1965 E. Queen Creek Road.
The agreement is up for renewal, and changes in security staffing would be included in the contract.
“We’d like to sit down with library district to determine the best direction forward,” Gilbert management assistant Melanie Dykstra said. “We want to make sure we are aware of their needs.”
The security funding was approved at the June 9 Council meeting, as part of the town’s final budget of $613 million for fiscal 2011-12.
An item regarding library security was on the agenda at Thursday’s Council meeting to allow public comments. The next Council meeting is scheduled for July 28.
“I think we’ll have a better idea (of how to proceed) by the July meeting,” Dykstra said.
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