Library assault leads to safety rethink: 'Do we put them in glass cages?' - Councillor

By Christine McKay -

Following an assault on a librarian in Dannevirke, the Tararua District Council is now considering what measures need to be taken to ensure the safety of staff.

Council chief executive Blair King told councillors the issue has highlighted a conflict between the goals of council in making the library inclusive and welcoming and the recent Worksafe prosecution of Winz Ashburton.

Councillor David Roberts asked what can be done to protect council workers in front offices and libraries.

"Do we put them in glass cages?"

Mr King said it wasn't practical to put cages around counters at libraries.

"That will cause more problems for staff trying to reach through to take books," he said.

"It's a matter of what council could control.

"We've already completed significant work in our service centres so staff can exit safely and our libraries encourage accessibility.

"We are engaging a former OSH inspector and prosecutor to give us advice."

Dannevirke is the only town in Tararua where there isn't a combined service centre/library, but Mr King said the library is picking up more service centre inquiries.

"It's a challenge," he said.

"We are seeking further guidance across councils on how to implement the judge's findings in the Ashburton case for those libraries which also provide service centre or cash-handling facilities."

The incident at the Dannevirke Library resulted in a staff member being hit in the head by a member of the public, but there were extraordinary circumstances, Mr King said.

"This wasn't your usual event and the person involved hadn't realised what they had done."

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