Friday, April 04, 2008

Knoxville Library Installs Security Screening

I did not know that public libraries were hotbeds of violence - but apparently they are in Knox County. How else to explain a new program to screen visitors/patrons at random with a metal detector? I saw the report last night on WBIR, and I just can't see a reason for it. Are there some threats and dangers which the county knows but is fearful to speak of?

Library spokeswoman Mary Pom Claiborne said:

People are getting used to (screenings) everywhere they go. You know, you can't get through the City County Building without going through one, any of the courthouses, of course, the airport, so they're really becoming a way of life in this day and age. It's unfortunate, but it's necessary," Claiborne said."

Well that worldview is sad, very sad. A way of life, she says. Given that violent acts have occurred in the locations she mentions, we should simply accept strict security measures at every location? I'm afraid the answer in America today is yes. We are afraid of each other as never before.

I noticed in their video report a few things - first, the security officer is not armed with a gun - what if a patron does try to enter carrying a couple of Glocks and and some pipe-bombs? Second, towards the end of the video, a patron empties their pockets and you can see him remove a hefty pocket knife and deposit it in the tray at the security station, a knife he then picks up to return to his pocket after being 'wanded'. Um. Isn't that a weapon?

Keep in mind that state officials have been pushing for the right of folks to carry a concealed gun into a bar. We need security checks at libraries??

Officials say this is just a test program. Of course, keeping employees and patrons safe from violent attack is a good intention. Other public libraries have similar programs, and there is of course a new 'industry model' where public libraries contract out for security measures. It's a fast-growing business.

Is the norm for the 21st century American life to be the increased reliance on private security firms and agents? As previously said, many of us seem to believe it is "unfortunate but necessary".

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:40 AM

    Yeah, based on that report, it didn't seem like the library had a clear rationale for doing searches. Seemed like a "everyone else is doing it" type justification.

    Perhaps some people are uncomfortable because a number of visitors come in off the street?