Staff Asks for Help After Incident
During their regular June 23 Library Board of Directors meeting, the four members present voted unanimously to pursue immediately the hiring a security officer to be on site during library hours and make arrangements for a long term security contract at their next meeting. Attending the meeting in person were Chair Sallie Seabury and Rick Sebastian; attending via Zoom were Secretary Jan Fleming and Erik LaFave.
The trigger for this change was a report by Library Director Cletus Poser about an incident that day in which a patron he identified as “Ricky Miller” became upset that some library staff members and Garden Club members were in his way and began shouting, using foul language and threatened them, including telling a staff member that he would, “bash her head in.”
Poser indicated that he contacted the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the individual would be trespassed from the library. The husband of one of the threatened staff members attended the meeting and relayed her and his own concerns about the need for a security guard to protect both staff and patrons. Another staff member present at the meeting agreed, “Mr. Miller is not the only one who has made threats against the staff. We do have to provide some sort of security, possibly a private company, maybe a metal detector. This is the first library out of seven where I’ve worked, that doesn’t have a metal detector.
Sebastian, who spearheaded a security review following Dr. Leroy Hommerding’s murder at the library’s front doors in January 2019, agreed. “We’ve discussed this before, after Dr. Hommerding’s attack and death…We are close to the enclave of the homeless here at the library. Some have been turned away from the Baptist Church and Chapel by the Sea. Whatever they said they were going to do about a database to help us, didn’t come to fruition. We need to do something, though I don’t think we need somebody carrying a gun. Regardless of the age, gender or demeanor of our staff, it’s not their job to be the gendarme.”
“I don’t want our staff or patrons being afraid to come to the library. It will cost money, but we’re about to set our budget for next year,” said Jan Fleming.
Sebastian made a motion to move forward with security in the short term and to bring costs for a longer contract to the next board meeting in July. It was approved 4-0.
Blue Star Memorial
Members of the Estero Island Garden Club presented a request to the Library Board to allow placement of a Blue Star Memorial for area veterans in front of the library near the entrance and flagpole. Carol Dallas of the EIGC explained that an anonymous donation has been received to cover the costs of the memorial. “If you agree, we will move forward with the permitting process with the Town to approve the sign.”
While Fleming said she hoped it could be ready for dedication on Veterans Day in November, Dallas thought that might be too soon as it had to get town approval and then be ordered. Town Council is on hiatus until August. The board approved the placement of the sign unanimously.
The third floor Friends of the Library Beachcombers Books is now open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday – Friday. Due to the small size of the store, only four people are allowed in at a time and masks are required.