BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Central Library will resume normal hours starting Monday, March 27, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library Director John Spears announced Friday.
The Buffalo Peacemakers, a conflict mediation and youth mentoring group, will be inside and on library grounds to “provide support through teen mentoring and programming.” The Peacemakers will help enforce rules in the library and lead teen programming, Spears said in an interview with News 4.
Patrons visiting after 3 p.m. will now only be allowed to enter through the library’s main entrance on Washington Street as “an additional safety measure.”
“We want to be a place where everyone, no matter who they are, feels welcome,” Spears said. “This is going to be a way that we can do that.”
The library started closing to the public at 3 p.m. on weekdays on March 10 following “a drastic increase in the frequency and the severity of incidents” at the library over the past few months. Spears told News 4 that the majority of those incidents — which ranged from verbal harassment cases to physical fights involving multiple people — had occurred on weekday evenings, adding that a “small number” of teenage students were responsible for many of the incidents.
“This partnership effort is designed to give comfort and assurances that the library is a safe place to be, and its tranquility and peace shall be restored,” Pastor James Gilos, the outreach coordinator for the Buffalo Peacemakers, said in a statement.
Spears said library staff had tried to address the rise in incidents before they reduced the library’s hours. That included an increase in teen activity programming, with some of their workshops drawing upward of 70 students.
The library may also implement other safety measures, such as metal detectors at entryways, in the near future.
“We’ll be constantly evaluating this,” Spears said. “We’ll constantly be looking at what we’re doing, making sure it’s meeting the needs, making sure that it’s creating the library that this community deserves.”
Patrons continued to use the library’s meeting rooms, recording studios and technology trainings during the temporary closure, Spears said, with up to 75 people in the library on any given weekday evening.
The library’s normal hours are:
- Monday-Thursday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.