sfpl.jpgThe San Francisco Main library is heightening its security in response to the increase in library crime rates this year. The library plans to improve surveillance and hire a social work to deal with homeless or troubled patrons.

According to a report in the Ex, reported library assaults have gone up from 28 cases last year to 38 this year, a 36% increase. Theft has also reported an increase of 14% from 43 to 49 cases. Drug-related incidents, on the other hand, have decreased from 43 to 33 this year, a drop of 23%.

“While the number of incidents may show a slight increase, it is a minuscule amount considering millions of users,” said City Librarian Luis Herrera told the Ex. “This year, we experienced the highest number of visits to our libraries — almost 7 million, a 10 percent increase from the prior year. Overall, we are extremely pleased with the success of our public safety program.”

As SFPD spokesperson Officer Boaz Mariles told the Appeal in January, the SFPD has officers who are assigned specifically to the Main Library to protect its patrons. “If you’re at the library and experience an issue, make sure to tell security right away. That’s what they’re there for, to keep you safe in the library” Mariles said.

Additional library security measures include bathroom monitors installed to stop people from using the stalls for drugs or the sinks for bathing and shaving. The library has also amended several rules in 2007 in an effort to crack down the whip on bad behavior. Library Commission has explicitly outlawed sex, indecent exposure, and drug use in San Francisco libraries to make legal grounds clear to violators.

The library has also been working with the city’s homeless outreach team since January 2009 and has hired a full-time social worker to connect troubled patrons to needed services. Kathy Lawhun, chief of the library, explained that sometimes just a few patrons can cause a lot of trouble. “We had two particular patrons who were causing about 90 percent of our incidents for a couple of months,” Lawhun said, “and we got them hooked up with a social worker. They got into programs and that really decreased a lot of the incidents.”

So far there has been 591 contacts between the homeless outreach team and troubled library patrons. 69 patrons have been connected with housing, 13 have been placed in permanent housing, and 38 are in stabilization rooms.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!
  • Robert B. Livingston

    Like the SF Appeal which asked me to “pimp” more about myself when I signed up to comment here, this article illustrates a crude and unthoughtful complacency about stereotyping people for convenience.

    And like the tendentious San Francisco Examiner story that this story echoes, the homeless are suggested as the reason for ongoing crime at the library. Careful reading of both articles show that the link between the homeless and crime are mostly circumstantial and without clear evidence– indeed never truly stated.

    For example, were the persons washing up or using drugs in the bathrooms homeless– or Library Staff trying to escape Luis Herrera? (I’m sure the bathroom spy has a clear answer.)

    While common sense suggests people in trouble may be more likely to cause trouble– I am deeply troubled by the lack of sophisticated thought that flies in the face of San Francisco’s humanitarian values which spurn labeling and hasty insinuation.

    Had the title of this article been Main Library Still Home To (fill in the blank), Crime the ridiculousness of this stereotyping would be made transparent.

  • Robert B. Livingston

    Like the SF Appeal which asked me to “pimp” more about myself when I signed up to comment here, this article illustrates a crude and unthoughtful complacency about stereotyping people for convenience.

    And like the tendentious San Francisco Examiner story that this story echoes, the homeless are suggested as the reason for ongoing crime at the library. Careful reading of both articles show that the link between the homeless and crime are mostly circumstantial and without clear evidence– indeed never truly stated.

    For example, were the persons washing up or using drugs in the bathrooms homeless– or Library Staff trying to escape Luis Herrera? (I’m sure the bathroom spy has a clear answer.)

    While common sense suggests people in trouble may be more likely to cause trouble– I am deeply troubled by the lack of sophisticated thought that flies in the face of San Francisco’s humanitarian values which spurn labeling and hasty insinuation.

    Had the title of this article been Main Library Still Home To (fill in the blank), Crime the ridiculousness of this stereotyping would be made transparent.

  • DT

    The stacks at the old Main were where the perverts hung out. I’m glad there is no public access to the stacks at the old Brooks Hall.

    Scary (inebriated and inappropriate) people inhabit the Main, as well as many other branches.

    The last time I was called to jury duty (before Kamala Harris; I haven’t been called during her term, was called annually during Hallinan’s term) the case was for a repeat offender public exposure and drunk in public at the Main.

    The defense attorney worked very hard at locating jurors who had never been to the Main, had never consumed an alcoholic beverage, and who had never seen the reproductive organs of someone else. I did not realize that I had seen the defendant elsewhere before; his attorney cleaned him up, washed him up, got him a haircut, a cashmere pullover, and a translator. I was not selected to sit on this jury as I expressed my feelings of lack of safety while at the Main.

    Some things never change.

    Security should escort problem patrons to Social Services or the MAP Van. Adding Social Workers to library facilities is an open invitation to force all public facilities to have social and health services at taxpayer expense.

    As it is now, over 60% of San Francisco Budget expenditures go to Social Services and Health, while the infrastructure damaged by the clientele and SPFD/SFFD expenses for handling these clients are rewarded by their budgets being regularly cut.

    The Inmates are running the Asylum.

  • DT

    The stacks at the old Main were where the perverts hung out. I’m glad there is no public access to the stacks at the old Brooks Hall.

    Scary (inebriated and inappropriate) people inhabit the Main, as well as many other branches.

    The last time I was called to jury duty (before Kamala Harris; I haven’t been called during her term, was called annually during Hallinan’s term) the case was for a repeat offender public exposure and drunk in public at the Main.

    The defense attorney worked very hard at locating jurors who had never been to the Main, had never consumed an alcoholic beverage, and who had never seen the reproductive organs of someone else. I did not realize that I had seen the defendant elsewhere before; his attorney cleaned him up, washed him up, got him a haircut, a cashmere pullover, and a translator. I was not selected to sit on this jury as I expressed my feelings of lack of safety while at the Main.

    Some things never change.

    Security should escort problem patrons to Social Services or the MAP Van. Adding Social Workers to library facilities is an open invitation to force all public facilities to have social and health services at taxpayer expense.

    As it is now, over 60% of San Francisco Budget expenditures go to Social Services and Health, while the infrastructure damaged by the clientele and SPFD/SFFD expenses for handling these clients are rewarded by their budgets being regularly cut.

    The Inmates are running the Asylum.

  • Erik

    So you are saying that the homeless outreach team mentioned in the article is part of some mass hallucination?

  • Erik

    So you are saying that the homeless outreach team mentioned in the article is part of some mass hallucination?