Libraries no stranger to theft, disturbances

First Posted: 1/4/2015

TOLEDO (AP) — A northwestern Ohio library system is no stranger to reports of theft, misconduct and other disturbances, according to a newspaper investigation which found most incidents were benign but also included allegations of fighting, drug use and sexual activity.

A review of Toledo-Lucas County Public Library’s security reports from 2012 through the end of last year detailed nearly 1,000 incidents annually, The Blade reported Sunday (

The Main Library downtown had the most visitors and the greatest number of disturbances in which security guards and city police had to intervene, the newspaper said.

Library Director Clyde Scoles raised the issue with the library board a week after the newspaper requested the data, according to Sunday’s story.

“We have a code of conduct and policies that we follow as best as we can,” Scoles told the board. “It’s certainly a bumpy road sometimes, but with security issues, we address them in a good and forceful way.”

Scoles said public libraries are generally safe places to visit but are not immune to crime, acknowledging the seriousness of some of the reports.

The system has 22 armed security officers and eight Toledo police and Lucas County sheriff’s deputies who work off-duty.

Sexual activity, usually in restrooms, and often apparently consensual, was reported 11 times in 2012, eight in 2013, and five last year.

The paper says many libraries have become a place for homeless people to gather during the day when shelters are closed, with individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues occasionally causing problems.

Homeless advocate Ken Leslie says the majority are using computers to look for jobs, but said some unhoused mentally ill people do make trouble.

The reports also documented numerous cases of theft, with 645 books, movies, and CDs stolen last year alone, costing taxpayers nearly $14,000.

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