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Fletcher Free Library installs new locks to keep drugs out - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Fletcher Free Library installs new locks to keep drugs out

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

About four weeks ago, librarians at Fletcher Free Library made a startling discovery: drug paraphernalia left behind by people using in the bathrooms. Now, they're taking the necessary steps to try to keep it from happening again.

"I noticed that there was a hypodermic needle floating in the toilet and then maybe 10 days later I saw another hypodermic needle floating in the toilet," said Ken Lawless, a library member.

After syringes were repeatedly found in the toilets at the library, restrooms are now under lock and key.

"There were three situations where the plumbing backed up and on all three occasions it was the same situation at that point. We realized we need to come up with a solution or a plan," said Rubi Simon, the director of the Fletcher Free Library.

On Wednesday the locks that were installed weeks ago on the men's and women's bathrooms were removed and the new locks were put in place. With more than 600 people in and out of the library every day, librarians hope the locks cut down drug activity.

With the new system in place, members of the library will now have to provide a driver’s license or a library card in order to get into the bathroom.

"When I heard that they were going to start to control some of the drug activity and the unreasonable behavior, I came down for a few books," said Martha Lang, a library member.

"Since the story got out, we've had great support from the community, people have been very proactive and supportive and they think it’s the right decision," said Simon.

But some visitors are concerned it will take more to keep drugs out.

"They can hardly follow people in and make sure they don't drop the hypodermic needles because the librarians would spend all of their time going in and out of the men's and women's bathroom," said Lawless.

Library officials say they have support from the mayor's office. Police are also playing a part in keeping the library safe.

"They've been coming in and doing walk-throughs, which has been incredibly helpful. We've seen a positive change, the staff is very excited about that," said Simon.

"I'm thankful that the library will be a place where the public can feel comfortable coming and going," said Lang.

It's a move that Simon says other libraries throughout the nation already practice and as the largest library in the state, the hope is to have a better handle on the library. The plan is to assess how successful the new system is within the next 3 to 4 months.

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