Patrons miffed at library’s new security searches


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Winnipeggers are disgruntled they now have to submit to a metal detector and search of their bags if they want to check out a library book or read a magazine at the Millennium Library.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/02/2019 (1490 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeggers are disgruntled they now have to submit to a metal detector and search of their bags if they want to check out a library book or read a magazine at the Millennium Library.

Monday was the first day of the city’s new security screening measures at the entrance of the downtown library and there were security guards, metal detectors and lines of people waiting to get in.

Most people weren’t happy with the change.

Brian Onafraycink, who said he uses the library almost daily, said he already has a list of library branches that have no security, and he might go to those instead.

“This is too intense,” Onafraycink said. “I have no problem them looking for weapons, but it is too intrusive. It’s more intrusive than VIA Rail.”

Onafraycink didn’t want to go through security and get back into line again after going outside for a smoke break.

“It’s not the end of the world. I’ll just go to another library,” he said.

Similar to people going to airports or sporting facilities, Millennium Library visitors now have to put metal items, including cellphones, keys and coins, in a basket before submitting to a metal-detector wand.

Visitors are also being told items that can’t be brought into the library include explosives, alcohol, illegal drugs, pepper spray and blades.

Anyone who doesn’t want to submit to the new security measures will not be allowed into the library.

Carrying her eight-month-old son Sam in one arm and watching her five-year-old son, Henry, Bronwyn Murray said going through such security was a surprise.

“It’s more complicated to get in,” Murray said, noting the guards rooted through her purse and diaper bag.

“I’m a regular library user and this is one of the few free places to go downtown… I might start going somewhere else, but I love this library.”

Patrick Niesink, who was returning a book, said he thinks the city has gone a bit too far with the security.

“They’re going from making you think it is a dangerous place to making it look like a dangerous place,” he said.

“This is obscene.”

But a regular user of the library, who didn’t want her name used, said she can understand why the city has set up the security screening.

“I knew they’d have to do something with the things I’ve been seeing. People hang out. They meet. We know there is stuff going on here,” she said.

“This has been a relatively safe place to go, but the irony is it will now be even safer.”

Ed Cuddy, manager of library services, said he has talked to several people, both in the run-up to the new measures being enacted and the first few hours of it, and he has already seen at least one change is needed.

“We need to get a locker system for people just outside the gates,” he said.

“It is amazing how many people have pen knives… they need a place to stow them. People who are homeless or semi-homeless may have a lot of stuff, but we want them to come.”

Cuddy would recommend the lockers be free.

The security system needed to be put in because of various incidents at the library in recent years, including violence, threats and alcohol and substance abuse, he said.

“We’re very familiar with all of the incidents here, but most people, unless they are regulars, don’t know that. It has been going on for years. It was not an easy decision to make.”

The most common refrain from people Cuddy has spoken with is, “we get why you’re doing this, but we’re sad it has to happen,” he said.

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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