Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco libraries add security guards

This year's budget cuts forced Pasco's libraries to scale back on operating hours and book purchases.

But last week a new expense came online: security guards at all seven branches.

Library officials say the decision to hire part-time guards — which will cost the library system $24,960 per year — is in response to minor incidents such as vandalism, kids smoking in the parking lots and a handful of patrons who were acting erratically.

Linda Allen, libraries director, said the safety of patrons and employees took precedence over the services pinched by funding cutbacks.

"If this isn't a safe or positive place to be, we won't have to worry about books, because people won't be coming," she said. "There's more anger in the general population, and they seem to take it out on public services sometimes.

"We are facing more people coming to the library who are homeless or unemployed. And people who maybe have emotional or mental problems are acting out more. It concerns us."

The decision to hire security guards was made in 2007, Allen said. But the bidding and interviewing process took longer than anticipated, pushing the hiring to this year.

Guards with American Protection Service Inc., based in Meridian, Miss., started work at Pasco's libraries on Nov. 3. The company stations one security guard at each of the seven branches for about four hours each weekday. The time of the shift varies by branch.

The guards earn $13 per hour.

In addition to patrolling the library's grounds, guards will help with special events or escorting employees or people with disabilities to their cars, said Brian Fortenberry, president of the company.

Pasco's library system joins others in the Tampa Bay area that use private security companies or law enforcement personnel.

In Tampa, security guards have been used in some branches of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries for the past 25 years, said Joe Stines, director of libraries.

"We keep incident reports and analyze patterns to decide (security options)," Stines said.

In Clearwater, police aides — people with security backgrounds who go through training by Clearwater police officers — guard two of the city's five library branches, said Eleanor Scharf, assistant libraries director of the city's library system.

Vandalism and a higher concentration of kids at certain branches prompted the decision to hire security, Scharf said. The library system has been using security guards or police aides on and off for the past 10 years, Scharf said.

"With our building and our location, it was needed to patrol the area," said Scharf, who works in the main library branch.

In Pasco, funding cuts have prompted officials this year to close library branches an hour earlier and postpone purchasing new materials. The library system's $7-million budget took a 10 percent hit.

But Allen said hiring security was crucial.

"More people are coming in, and more are needing services," she said. "The safety of our patrons is important."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

by the numbers

$24,960 The annual cost of providing part-time security guards at the county's library branches.

$13 The hourly rate earned by guards.

7 The number of branches within the library system.

4 The amount of time, measured in hours, that security guards will spend each day at the branches.

Pasco libraries add security guards 11/09/08 [Last modified: Saturday, November 15, 2008 11:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. YouTube's Minecraft sensation Dan TDM brings live show to Clearwater

    Events

    Dan Middleton's YouTube channel has had more than 10 billion views since 2012.

    Dan Middleton's Dan TDM live tour is set to stop in Clearwater on Sunday. [Photo by Emily Herogian]
  2. Lightning's Mathieu Joseph on the rise at development camp

    Blogs

    BRANDON — The last 12 months have been quite the ride for Mathieu Joseph.

    Mathieu Joseph checks Carolina's Jake Bean during a preseason game in September in Tampa.
  3. Pinellas legislators talk governor's race, policy at delegation breakfast

    Blogs

    If anybody was expecting state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, to quit being coy and and announce his bid for the 2018 governor's race to the friendly crowd at Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual legislative delegation breakfast Wednesday, they left disappointed.

  4. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes

    Transportation

    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community for the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at DOT's Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Ave. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON | Times]
  5. Florida Orchestra and Tampa Bay Master Chorale scrap search for a joint conductor

    Stage

    TAMPA — After a yearlong effort, the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay and the Florida Orchestra have abandoned their search for a conductor capable of leading both groups.

    Doreen Rao conducts a concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra in December 2010. Photo by Enid Bloch.