Medford library to add security after calls from city to address safety

MEDFORD, Ore. – The city of Medford is calling on the Medford library to address community concerns about safety.

The city hopes in the coming months the library provides solutions to fix issues that some say make it an unsafe place to visit.

The library said they’re planning to add security in the coming weeks.

“Trespassing, criminal mischief or vandalism, a lot of issues with drug use, needles,” Rogue Community College director of risk management Sean Taggart said.

Taggart says at it’s Medford campus there were 128 incidents of criminal or suspicious behavior logged in just the past year.

The campus is located next to the Medford library.

Medford city manager Brian Sjothun said in 2022 police received over 300 calls for service at the library alone.

“Our calls for service for police and fire were at a level that would label it in our code as a chronic nuisance property,” he said.

He also said the city’s received numerous complaints from residents and neighboring business such as RCC and RVTD.

Now, the city is calling on the library to address safety concerns inside and outside of its building.

“We recognize that some of the increased numbers of incidents have led to feel like the library is not safe for them and their families and by bringing in security and taking a look at some of our policies, we hope to re-balance that,” library director Kari May said.

May said there is not security at the library currently, but rather it’s part of the staff’s role.

Now, they are finalizing a contract with a security firm to place un-armed security guards at the library in the coming weeks. 

“During all the hours the library is open and patrolling inside and outside the building, identifying problems, that hopefully before they escalate into incidents here at the library,” May said.

She also said there will not be overnight security.

We asked Sjothun if he felt the library was safe.

“I believe that library is safe for a certain segment of the community,” he said. “For children, families I have questions whether the library is operating under the intent the voters passed.”

In recent years, Jackson County library services launched some social services in Medford.

It’s to help those seeking support and resources for housing, mental health challenges and much more.

Sjothun said the city doesn’t have a problem with the services provided, but its what’s happening after those services are finished that concerns him.

May said they’ve identified a crucial need in the community, but after providing more social services than it originally intended the library is looking make changes.

“That’s part of what we’re taking a look at right now to say we need to step back and focus really on the referral part of being part of the social services network in Jackson County,” she said.

Sjothun tells NBC5 the city will not take formal action unless the issues are ignored or a property owner is unresponsive.

He said, in this case, that is not happening and the library is working with the city.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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