By STEVEN GOODE
The Hartford Courant
December 5, 2008
The Hartford Public Library Board of Directors Thursday adopted many of the recommendations recently suggested by a safety and security task force.
The task force was formed by the board last summer after the revelation of illegal and improper activities in the main branch of the library, including the theft of materials, sexual activity, drinking and drug use in bathrooms and threats against employees.
On Thursday, the board unanimously approved the closure of the Arch Street entrance by the end of January, provided that handicapped access — including parking in front of the building on Main Street and the installation of a new, electronically activated door — is provided.
The board also approved a plan to reorganize computer stations in a manner that would make it more difficult for a library patron to view adult or pornographic images on another person’s screen.
“We want to make it a more comfortable place for people walking through and [for] staff,” board member Cynthia Reik said.
The board also approved a proposal to install surveillance cameras in the library to enable security guards to monitor less visible areas of the building and the entrances to bathrooms. The board also directed staff to continue investigating the cost of additional anti-theft devices, such as one that has been installed where the library houses its CD and DVD collections.
“We’re losing a significant amount of our collection,” board President Geraldine Sullivan said. “We need to balance that out.”
The board also directed the staff to create a plan for a separate and dedicated teen area that would be farther away from the children’s section.
Thursday’s board meeting was the last for chief librarian Louise Blalock, who is retiring after 14 years. Members of the board thanked Blalock for her service and her help with the modernization of the city’s library system before giving her a standing round of applause.
“I have truly loved the people of Hartford,” Blalock said. “I think they have been receptive and appreciative. It’s more than reward enough to have that come back to me.”
Copyright © 2008, The Hartford Courant