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Local library staffs welcome addition of security guards

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Public libraries in the southwest suburbs have been adding additional programs the past few years, much to the delight of regular patrons and students.

The additional programs have been drawing more people, many of them grade-school children and teens. Security guards have been added during regular hours at most local libraries. But some patrons have called The Reporter office wondering if the reason for that is because some disturbances have occurred at some local libraries.

Sara Kennedy, assistant director of public services at Green Hills Library, 8611 W. 103rd St., Palos Hills, said that a security guard has been on staff at the facility for the past couple of months. However, she pointed out it is not because of any specific reason or due to an incident.

“We have so many programs here and we are pretty busy,” said Kennedy. “We just need another body on site to help monitor things.”

Kennedy said that the Green Hills staff often has to answer questions at the front desk and they are often called away to another section of the library. She said the presence of a security guard is a benefit because they can help visitors while staff can respond to questions in another part of the building.

“But nothing has happened,” said Kennedy. “We have three floors here so we just think it is a good idea to have a security guard on hand.”

Kennedy said that the security guard was hired by another company. A security guard works from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The presence of a security guard has caught the attention of some patrons, Kennedy said.

“”A few people were asking us,” added Kennedy, “It’s not because of any problems. They were just curious. Some other libraries have security.”

Rose Gilman, library director at the Chicago Ridge Library, 10400 S. Oxford, said they also have a security guard. Gilman has been at the library for a year and she essentially inherited the policy of having security on hand for Tuesday and Thursday evenings during the school year.

“But I think it is a good idea,” said Gilman. “We have a lot of programs for kids and teens on those nights so it can get very busy.”

Gilman said that security is arranged with the village. She said she was going to place a call with the Chicago Ridge Police Department to set up the arrangement.

“It’s not because of any incident,” said Gilman. “We don’t have as many people on staff so it is just helpful to have another person around.”

Gilman likes the idea of having a security guard around when the kids come in to take part in their programs.

“What’s so exciting about this is that the teens in these programs can get a chance to interact with police,” said Gilman. “They get to know the police in a positive way.”

While Green Hills Library and the Chicago Ridge Library have security guards, the staff at the Evergreen Park facility does not.

Julie Keaty, virtual services and special events coordinator at the Evergreen Park Library, 9400 S. Troy Ave., said that a monitor is employed to help out at the library during after school hours. The monitor is a resident who mostly likely is a patron who may have children who take part in programs at the library. The monitor works Monday through Thursdays.

Keaty said that no real issues have occurred at the library.

“It’s more about noise levels,” said Keaty, who explained that they are across the street from a junior high school and they have many programs during the week for kids. “Having a monitor helps our staff.”

Keaty also added that the Evergreen Park police are just a block away.

“They are very responsive,” added Keaty.

The Oak Lawn Library, 9427 S. Raymond Ave., was closed over the weekend due to the Fall on the Green festival that was held outside their grounds, so one was available to respond to calls regarding security. The library offers a variety of programs for adults, youths and teenagers. They have had a security guard on staff for some time.

Carol Hall is the director of the Worth Library, 6917 W. 111th St. She said they do not employ a security guard.

“This is a small library,” said Hall. “But I can see at larger libraries that could be helpful. When you have a lot of people coming in, you could use the help. For us at the moment, it is not an issue.”

In respect to the Green Hills Library, Gilman said that is understandable that they would have a security guard now on staff. Gilman served as the youth services manager at Green Hills Library from 2006 to 2013.

“I agree with them,” said Gilman. “I can tell you that they have increased their programs greatly since 2013. Sometimes you just need more help. I think is a good idea.”