Hostility against Kingston, Ont. library workers a growing problem


Officials with the Kingston Frontenac Public Library are calling for help amid a rise in aggressive and sometimes violent behaviour towards library employees in recent months. Public libraries are supposed to be a safe space to go check out books, enjoy quiet time, or maybe even meet up with a friend.Lately, however, increasingly negative behaviour towards staff, specifically at the KFPL’s Johnson Street location, has led to concern.“Instances of actual threats of harm for staff or other patrons, instances of people, upon being asked to leave or after leaving the building, kicking the building or doing other property damage,” said Laura Carter, chief librarian and CEO for KFPL. Story continues below advertisement “Shouting, swearing, verbal abuse and derogatory comments, unfortunately,” added Jillann Rothwell, president of CUPE Local 2202, which represents the Kingston public library workers.Also, it’s not just verbal abuse.Kingston police had to get involved after an incident at the central branch that turned physical.“It was reported in the media that we did have an actual assault that happened at the central branch,” said Carter. 2:34 Man charged following ‘hate-motivated incident’ at Calgary library She believes the situation cannot be handled alone and that the reason is clear: gaps in the social service system. Trending Now Carter adds that the solution involves unity among all the services, and help from upper levels of government. Story continues below advertisement “It’s beyond what the city can handle, it’s beyond what the library can handle, so go up and then, sort of, the immediate thing that we need to deal with at the library is to make sure that people, staff and the public are safe,” she said.“We are experiencing the fallout of various crises that are happening in our community,” added Rothwell.In the interim, carter says they’ve asked Home Base Housing to increase its daily rounds to the library by the organization’s street outreach team, but Carter says it may not be enough.Amanda Brierley from Home Base Housing said that calls of this nature aren’t just increasing at the library, but at other spots in the city as well, where people experiencing homelessness go to get out of the cold.“It’s much bigger than ‘what can the library do to fix this?” said Carter. 2:14 Kingston Ont., Mayor says province needs to help with local homelessness efforts &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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