The Main Library will reopen as public health orders allow. (File photo)

The Santa Monica Public Library may strengthen security later this summer in response to an assault and vandalism that occurred at the Main Library last month.

John William Randall, a 49-year-old transient, was arrested June 26 after fighting with another homeless man over a computer, according to the Santa Monica Police Department. Holding a knife, he choked him and attempted to gauge his eyes out with this thumbs before library staff intervened and separated them.

On June 2, several volumes in the periodicals area were sprayed with a liquid that staff believes is likely urine, said Patty Wong, director of library services. Staff immediately closed and cleaned the section, removing the damaged materials, and moved the irreplaceable and valuable parts of the collection to a more secure area, Wong said.

The damaged materials are under evaluation for cleaning or discard, she added. All of the materials are available for retrieval via request at the service desk.

Many people experiencing homelessness stay in Santa Monica’s libraries during the day and the city of Santa Monica has deployed between four to six library services officers at the Main Library and neighborhood branches to work with the population. The city is also planning to station a social worker at the library to connect individuals with services.

In the past month alone, however, almost 100 calls to the police were made from the 600 block of Santa Monica Boulevard, where the Main Library is located. The number of calls made was among the highest of any block downtown and police data from previous months shows the same trend.

Wong said the library services officers educate patrons on the library’s rules of conduct and enforce those rules. However, stronger security may be needed, she said.

“In the past month, there have been two disturbing incidents,” she said. “We don’t take these situations lightly. We are exploring ways to strengthen security for implementation later this summer.”

The city is dedicated to the health and safety of library patrons, Wong said.

“As high traffic public spaces, we take great care to help ensure everyone feels welcome at all library branches,” she said. “We want our library patrons to know that we care about their experiences and we’re committed to fostering a safe and enriching environment for everyone.”

madeleine@smdp.com

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7 Comments

  1. They security for a long time. The homeless situation is out of control. Mental illness and unpredictability factor. Glad they’re doing this.

  2. It’s a defacto homeless shelter. Areas upstairs stink. Soiled seating, unusable now for work or study and not particularly safe. Gross bathrooms with people washing their clothes in the sink. Most seating occupied with homeless stunned, dazed, or “sleeping one off,” not doing anything library related.

  3. Later this summer? What about right NOW! Quit kicking the can down the road. Crime is out of control, and the city just won’t admit it. The city has chosen to give away the library, our parks, and our streets to vagrant trash, that has no ties to our city. Wake up Residents. The city council and city staffers do not care about us or our safety at ALL.

  4. I don’t go to the library anymore. I haven’t for a long, long time. I briefly visited daily for a week in December as I awaited notice of when my new internet system would be installed. I used library computers. Even though I took my own disinfecting wipes to clean the area where I sat, I still wound up getting a very bad cold. Our library, which is tax payer supported, is no longer a safe, sanitary place of peace and enjoyment. I deeply miss going to the library, but I don’t want to spend my days in something that is more akin to a Medievel plague city.

  5. Can’t even bring our kids to the library any longer! Shame on SM. Also, it’s making it extremely unsafe for the workers there, this needs to be addressed NOW!
    Disgusting. Our family understand that it’s a “safe” haven for the unfortune; mainly mentally unwell, but lack of immediate action is not the answer, house them ASAP there are enough funds to do this in Santa Monica.

  6. Patty Wong is either ignorant or dishonest. The library security does NOT enforce patron rules against the bums. Numerous times I have complained and ultimately berated the ersatz guards for what they allow to go on in the men’s room and elsewhere. Responses range from ignoring to patronizing to the one who said, “Fuck you. If you don’t like it, leave.”

  7. They should not call it a library anymore They should call it a multi million dollar homeless shelter. The bums have taken over this building and made the bathrooms their wash room. There are literally hundreds that hang out in the library from morning until noon and night,Because they get shelter and warmth from the cold has well as air conditioning when it’s hot.The security does absolutely nothing with any problems they cause. Has a tax paying citizen I can’t even go to the library anymore and I would never take my kids there.I can’t believe the city is going to use my tax dollars to hire more security and also a social worker. Just turn it into another homeless shelter.

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