The Burns Lake Public Library’s storage shed that has been kicked-in and damaged by vandals. (Priyanka Ketkar photo)

The Burns Lake Public Library’s storage shed that has been kicked-in and damaged by vandals. (Priyanka Ketkar photo)

Vandals damage Burns Lake Public Library property

Library staff troubled by individuals loitering and littering in its premises

The Burns Lake Public Library has been seeing a rise in loitering and littering in its premises and it has now escalated to damaging the library property.

On July 2, the library posted to its Facebook page, a post explaining the damage that had recently been caused to the library’s storage unit in its premises.

Monika Willner, the library director shared her concerns over these damages with Lakes District News.

“It is quite concerning because we are trying to improve the place. When things like that happen, it also makes it difficult for us to safely deliver curbside service with people hanging around the building and not maintaining social distancing,” said Willner.

The library has been offering curbside pickup and drop-off service for its patrons ever since its closed its doors to the public due to Covid.

Willner explained that this damage and loitering has been happening for a while now but it increased when the library closed its doors to public. The public library is the only place in the community that offers high-speed free wifi. Several people have asked Willner to limit or completely cut off the public’s access to free wifi after hours for security purposes. However, Willner refuses to do this.

“Our internet connection has been through the local government; we have been connected to the fibre and this is a service for our public recognized by our local government because many of our patrons still don’t have any connection so we feel like this is very important and so shutting down the service, is not an really an option,” she said.

The current damage is to the building outside the library in its premises which is used for storage. Just last year, the library acquired a storage container and with the help from the village, was recently able to install siding and roofing to the storage. This siding has now been kicked in to and broken.

Willner said that the library also has constant problems with loitering and people throwing garbage in its premises.

“Almost every second day when I am coming back to work, I am finding the place fully trashed with garbage and this is very concerning,” she said.

The library has already contacted the Burns Lake RCMP and they have promised to increase their patrolling schedule around the library. The RCMP has also offered to help make a security plan and assist in placing cameras strategically around the library, as soon as the library is able to get an external security system.

The library has plans to make the more space available for the public outside the library so people can enjoy free wifi while sitting comfortably instead of leaning against cars or sitting by the sidewalks.

“We want to make it comfortable for everyone but the worry is how to make this work when some individuals will just damage everything that is put up for public use. So that scares us and stops the plan; because we won’t develop anything that would just be trashed in a short time,” added Willner.

The library is urging the community to monitor the place as and when possible.

“We are not trying to chase away anyone from the building; we love our patrons, we love everyone who is trying to use the library services, and we encourage that; it is a public space and a very inclusive space. We are just asking everyone to respect and are asking people to watch over the place,” said Willner.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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