Seattle Public Libraries reports $434K in damage, cites increase in loitering, vandalism

Oct 12, 2021, 10:16 AM | Updated: 11:00 am

Seattle Public Libraries...

The inside of Seattle's downtown public library branch. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Seattle Public Libraries (SPL) is reporting $434,000 in damage over the last 18 months, citing an increase in loitering, vandalism, and homeless encampments surrounding several of their branches.

January 2nd is Christmas for those with Seattle library fines

SPL laid out the most recent data in a memo to Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez. That includes reports of $170,000 in damage to the Central library branch on Fourth Avenue, in the form of seven shattered window panels damaged by a pellet gun.

Other damage to that branch included one instance where an uninsured motorist ran into the building on its Madison Street side, breaking four large window panes and bending supporting steel beams. That incident cost SPL an estimated $85,000 in repairs.

SPL reports tens of thousands of dollars in damage to other branches as well, including Ballard/Fremont, Lake City/Northgate, Northeast/University, Rainier Beach/Beacon Hill, and South Park.

The bulk of the damage done to the Ballard/Fremont branch came as a result of a fire from a neighboring homeless camp burning and cracking a window on the north side of the building, which also damaged a grating. Repairs ended up costing nearly $60,000.

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Lake City/Northgate also reported a series of smaller incidents where campers in the area broke windows.

In its memo to Councilmember Juarez, SPL noted that the increase in these incidents has its on-site staff members “extremely concerned for safety at work,” particularly at the downtown Seattle Central branch. It has also fielded similar complaints from patrons.

“Patrons are complaining at an increased rate that they feel unsafe as they receive services,” SPL described. “Staff have voiced concerns about safety on overnight cleaning, early morning deliveries or working during curb-side services. We are particularly concerned for the safety of SPL employees who work at these locations alone on late night (11 pm) or early hour (3 am) shifts with no security present.”

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Seattle Public Libraries reports $434K in damage, cites increase in loitering, vandalism