Librarians in Josephine Co. no longer blocked from bringing guns to work

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. – A scary incident at the Wolf Creek Library has prompted the Josephine Community Library District to act.

According to the district, on New Year’s Eve, a Wolf Creek branch manager was alone at the branch closing for the night when a man tried to break into the library through its glass doors.

The branch manager said she was locked in the library alone for over an hour before help arrived.

A few weeks later, when the manhunt began for accused murderer Benjamin Foster, the manager saw his picture on the news and recognized him from that night, though it has not been proven to be the same person.

However, the thought alone that it could have been Foster, caused the district to act.

In February, it removed a ban that prohibited employees from bringing dangerous weapons to work, including firearms.

Library Board Member Pat Fahey said it was a necessary step for staff safety.

“We realized we had a big responsibility to our volunteers and staff, and that’s the point of this, is to make sure our volunteers and staff are as safe as they can be,” Fahey said.

The policy change will apply to the district’s four locations in Grants Pass, Williams, Cave Junction, and Wolf Creek.

Fahey said that with some district branches being in such rural areas, it only makes sense for employees to be able to protect themselves with law enforcement not always just minutes away.

“We have rural libraries, Williams and Wolf Creek, two of the most rural, that are a long ways from help, and you realize you are putting some people at risk being out there,” Fahey explained. “So, we want to provide them the best help we can, the best protection.”

For Library Director Kate Lasky, the policy change levels the playing field.

She said that the staff is not able to ask someone to show a concealed carry license, so before the change, the only people not able to protect themselves with a firearm in a library were the 15 people the district employs.

“The library system itself is not authorizing employees to bring weapons to work, they are simply removing the restriction so that they have the same legal rights in the state of Oregon as everyone else,” Lasky said.

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Ethan McReynolds is a reporter and weekend anchor for NBC5 News. He grew up in Bothell, Washington and graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Broadcasting and minors in Journalism and Sport Management. At Gonzaga, he started his own sports podcast. Ethan loves rooting for his hometown Seattle sports teams, especially the Mariners. He loves playing baseball, basketball, and soccer. He is also an avid Taylor Swift fan.
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