MAIN LIBRARY — Librarians Thursday were prepared to dispose of roughly 150 books covering topics such as Greek literature and history after a patron “maliciously” spread human feces on the editions, Santa Monica officials said.

Assistant City Librarian Claudia Fishler said her staff placed the contaminated books in sealed containers and were planning to throw them away because they could not be cleaned and disinfected. The loss is estimated at $5,000. Many of the titles are out of print, she said.

Fishler plans to file a police report. Security cameras did not capture the incident as they are not focused on book stacks, but on entrances and exits. Library custodial staff report that the culprit is alleged to be a mentally-ill homeless person.

“This was malicious,” Fishler said. “These types of incidents are not common, but we have encountered this before.”

Librarians were alerted by a guest at the Main Library Wednesday around 5:45 p.m. that there was some chocolate on the second floor near the reference section, Fishler said.

When employees went to investigate, they quickly realized that the brown substance covering several book shelves was human feces. The area was closed to patrons and a cleaning crew went to work using environmentally-friendly disinfectants and cleansers. The carpet was steam cleaned and the damaged books collected and stored for disposal.

Risk Control Officer Larry Sacco supervised the cleanup, with custodial staff using proper protocol, he said.

“Our job is to make sure employees are safe and the public is safe,” Sacco said. “We are prepared to handle things like this.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Main Library at (310) 458-8600 or the Santa Monica Police Department at (310) 458-8426.

The area affected was re-opened Thursday. A date for when the books would be replaced was not released.

Fishler said the Main Library is patrolled by three security guards who are responsible for enforcing dozens of rules and watch for suspicious people. The branch, which opened in January 2006, sees roughly 80,000 visitors a month.

“It’s Santa Monica’s living room,” Fishler said of the facility.

Unfortunately, someone treated it like their bathroom.

kevinh@www.smdp.com

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