Safe Library Spaces:
Getting By With a Little Help From Our Friends
Canadian Library Association
Victoria, B.C.
May 29th, 2014
Stephen R. Warren
Library Manager,
Nanaimo North Branch
Vancouver Island Regional Library
6250 Hammond Bay Road,
Nanaimo B.C. V9T 6M9
Mobile: 250-327-3870
Email: [email protected]
Peter Thompson
Senior Librarian,
Greater Victoria Public Library
735 Broughton Street, Victoria,
B.C. V8W 3H2
Phone: 250-382-7241 Local 373
Mobile: 250-480-8763
Email: [email protected]
Our Primary
Audience …
Libraries and Library Systems where
physical and material security is managed
by library staff and not by a trained
security “professional”.
What friends do we have?
• SECURITY IS A TEAM SPORT - Other staff – including staff champions for
advocacy and training;
• Clear policies, procedures, manuals, best practices, record keeping;
• Administrative support for the high costs of effective security;
• Technology: cameras, communications, database, workstation booking
software (PCReservation), black list filtering (iPrism);
• Architecture;
LIMITS “train the trainers” security becomes self-policing;
What friends do we have?
• Community groups information & expertise – begins with outreach to identify
useful alliances (eg. Bikemobile, organizations) ;
• Networking with other libraries – Cooperative Model;
• Security audits;
• Legal tools:
• Statute law – Criminal Code, FOI & Privacy codes
• Court tools - in B.C. – CSO -
Legal context
A library is public space, but it is also private, regulated property
B.C. Library Act [RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 264
47 A library board may …
(b) suspend library privileges for breaches of the library rules, or
(c) exclude from the library anyone who behaves in a disruptive manner or damages
library property.
Shopkeeper’s right to refuse - Case law in Canadian Courts does allow businesses to
refuse service. This is commonly referred to as ‘The Shopkeepers Right To
Refuse”. Signage and advertising invites the public to enter a private business
property. A business owner or operator can lawfully revoke the invitation.
Legal context
You are allowed to use reasonable measures to remove (or have the
Police remove) an individual who has broken the library’s rules.
Citizen’s Arrest and Self-defence Act, S.C. 2012, c. 9)
Defence — property
35. (1) A person is not guilty of an offence if they
a)... are in peaceable possession of property ...;
b)... believe on reasonable grounds that another person …
I. ... has entered the property without being entitled by law to do so,
c)… the act ... is committed for the purpose of …
I. preventing the other person from entering the property, or removing
that person from the property,...
d)… the act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.
494. (2) … a person in lawful possession of property, … may arrest a person without a
warrant if they find them committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that
property …
Legal context: Privacy
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act [RSBC 1996] CHAPTER
33.2 A public body may disclose personal information … inside Canada as
(e) to an officer or employee of a public body …, if the information is necessary
for the protection of the health or safety of the officer, employee …;
(i) to a public body or a law enforcement agency in Canada to assist in a specific
(i) undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding, or
(ii) from which a law enforcement proceeding is likely to result;
This allows us to share information (reports and images) internally with
staff that need to know.
Legal context
Over and above Provincial OHS legislation, not ensuring a safe
workplace is a criminal offense!
Criminal Code of Canada, R.S.C. 1985, Section 217.1 (Westray Bill 2004)
Duty of persons directing work: Every one who undertakes, or has the authority, to
direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take
reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising
from that work or task.
Security Ideas
1. Security is a team sport – everyone needs to play.
2. The process requires training in:
• De-escalation of emotional situations;
• Setting Limits;
• Violence avoidance.
3. You get much better at it if you do it a lot – practice is required!
4. If you don’t manage your space, other people will be happy to do it for you.
5. Limit setting speaks over people’s shoulders to the space – discouraging a few
and encouraging many.
6. It’s NEVER personal – always search for the Win-Win – even the Wookie gets
to win sometimes!
7. The social conditions which ignore homelessness, addiction, poverty, and
mental illness are the root causes of most of our security issues.
1987 - 1994
Biggest issue: alcohol;
Incident reporting and filing primitive;
“Zero Tolerance” policy not yet in place – bad behaviour not consistently sanctioned;
Communications / information sharing poor;
No staff training;
People feeling very vulnerable, insecure, and WEARY!
Mental health / drug issues emerge – street life becoming more problematic;
First staff training in “problem patrons” provided in response to increasing staff unease;
First public text-based Internet terminals appear - problems appear eg. cyber
harassment, threatening;
Implementation of a Zero-tolerance policy for harassment, disruption, intoxication
begins - several long-standing patrons served with long-overdue sanctions;
1996 - 2008
The Web appears - brings new problems – porn;
First Workstation Policy drafted tied to the BC Motion Picture Act;
First Courtyard (outside the Branch) security footage becomes available;
Public Service administers incident response and record keeping - our modern system of
information management and dissemination begins;
Physical Security Audit done for GVPL by external contractor;
4 cheap radios tested at Central Library – staff first amused → became interested → finally
convinced of worth “… Who’se got the radio???”;
New set of non-enumerative "Rules" developed, a “Crime and Punishment Table” created,
and standardized formats for written warnings and sanctions adopted;
2009 - Present
12 digital radios purchased for Central Branch Library staff use. Now regarded as “essential
Number of annual incidents peaks at just over 300
GVPL accepted as a “Social Services” agency and takes a seat at the Downtown Service
Providers table;
Central Library sets up dedicated external door camera – images saved to a hard drive.
Complete Incident Report - 1998
Hand written &
Filed by DATE
and forgotten!!
Not shared
with Staff!!
Complete Incident Report - 2014
“No report filed? Then it
didn’t happen.”
“We may forgive but we
don’t forget ..”
Database Record for this Incident
Sharepoint – Report Form
Access Db
Hard Copy Records
& Alerts
Sharepoint – Report Output
– e-mailed to staff
Reports and Stats
Letters of Warning &
How do we explain the leveling-off incidents after 2010?
Possible Explanations:
1. We're getting better at this - our efforts are paying off!
• better tracking: (ADV Database);
• better tools: (templates for letters, Intranet posting, CCTV imagery
at CE), PC Reservation software;
• better rules: (clear Rules For Using Public Workstations; Rules
For Safe Use Of Library Premises);
• more consistency in applying rules and sanctions (Table of
• safer spaces – Security Audit improvements eg. exterior lighting
2. The City streets may also be changing!
• Due to public pressure, the efforts of a great number of local
social agencies such as Cool Aid; Our Place Society; VIHA are
beginning to address the roots of the problems that create the
problems we face such as homelessness, drug abuse, poverty;
We still have a long way to go and a lot or improvements yet to make
- technical and institutional
The Library’s Challenge Everywhere …
To make people understand that
It’s NOT 1952 any more at the Library!
The Downtown Service Providers Association
GVPL is at the table as part of a collaborative alliance of Local Non-Profits +
Municipal + Regional organizations which share information and work to
address social, health, and safety issues in the downtown core.
Victoria Cool Aid Society
AIDS Vancouver Island
Pacifica Housing Society
Together Against Poverty Society
Island Health – Mental Health and Addictions
Our Place Society
City of Victoria
Victoria Police Department
Salvation Army
United Way
Victoria Coalition To End Homelessness
… and many others! …
If something like this doesn’t exist in your community – Invent it!
1. What does a monster look like? A fearsome package can contain
a scholar, and a suit does not a gentleman make …
2. The dog in the purse. Precedent is everything. It’s not about your
sweet little pooch, it’s what else comes in the door behind it.
3. Really big shoes. How a simple case of shoes off can be blown up
into a police call. Any why it’s always not about my bad behaviour
but about the Library’s fascist attitudes …
4. The family that came to live with us. Getting to know a street
family and being challenged to practice what we preach.
1. PowerPoint Slides of this session
2. Bibliography
• De-escalation and violence prevention - articles
• Homelessness in Public Libraries
3. Documents
• GVPL’s ‘Challenging Situation Manual’ (Contact Peter Thompson if you
would like a copy of this document)
• Managing Aggressive Behaviour – notes from three workshops
• Legislation
Note of special thanks!
• To Mr. Mike McGee – Security Coordinator at Vancouver Public Library –
for his generous sharing of information and many good ideas.
Be safe! It’s a jungle
out there!

similar documents