City Rainier Ave S & S Fisher Place
posted by July 13 at 17:22 PMon
The Rainier Beach Public Library (RBPL), normally troubled by overdue books and flagrant violations of the Dewey decimal system, has something new to panic about: gangs.
One librarian I spoke with yesterday, who asked not to be named, said large groups of youth between 11 and 21 years old were coming into the library after school hours, disturbing other library patrons and threatening any librarians who tried to intervene. “They’re coming here to get on their Myspace accounts, to watch rappers and their web pages and oftentimes to play games,” the librarian told me. “It makes it very difficult when the library is very crowded with young people who are… going up and down the aisles yelling and cursing. The community is avoiding going to the library when the kids are there.”
Things got so bad that a security guard was assigned to RPBL after, the librarian says, “gang members [started] flashing their gang signs and intimidating other kids. One young person with a history all the way back to 2005 finally had to be arrested.”
Things seem to have cooled off for the summer, but the security guard is only assigned to RBPL until July 17.
Asked whether or not she thinks things have gotten better, the librarian cautiously told me “you don’t want to jinx it. Security is a deterrent. If they see the security guard, they don’t come in.”
After the 17th, the librarian says she’s not sure what will happen. “We’re waiting for downtown to make whatever decisions they’re going to make. [When we have a security guard] we can do our jobs. We can be librarians and not authoritarians.”
An SPD officer I spoke with today dismissed the librarian’s concerns about gang activity in the stacks. I was told that the problems probably stem from “kids being kids.”