Safety measures

New staffing will help ensure security in the Libraries

By Allison Campbell-Jensen

Alfredo
Alfredo Hernandez Jr.m the Libraries new Safety-Security Program Manager & Coordinator,

Having people you can rely upon is important for a sense of security — in many places, including the University Libraries. The Libraries in the past hired student employees, through the University Security Monitor program, to help on evenings and weekends in the larger libraries. But in the last few years, the program has been unable to cover all hours requested by the Libraries, says Shaan Hamilton, Libraries Director of Finance & Facilities.

As a result, the Libraries’ leadership convened a Safety/Security Working Group to examine ways to ensure proper coverage. The group studied several recent reports and recommendations and worked with the U’s Department of Public Safety. Ultimately, the group decided that hiring two full-time Security Advisors — one at Wilson Library and one at Walter Library — would improve security coverage.

A new approach

Bill Hill with Alfredo
Libraries staffer William Hill and Alfredo Hernandez Jr.

Two full-time Security Advisors will each cover Walter Library and Wilson Library Saturdays through Wednesdays. They are employees of the Department of Public Safety who are assigned to the Libraries. Because of this, the Security Advisor Program provides backup for vacation and sick times.

In addition, Magrath Library has hired a new full-time Library Assistant 3, Molly Bostrom, to cover the hours that Security Monitors used to, and to provide support for systematic reviews, other programs, and operations.

The Health Sciences and Wangensteen Libraries are situated within the Health Sciences District (HSD). In this area of campus, a U Card is required to access most entries, while visitors and patients are admitted through one of three public entrances staffed by existing, onsite HSD security.

Another major change is the recent hire of Alfredo Hernandez Jr. as the Libraries new Safety-Security Program Manager & Coordinator, who will work Wednesdays through Sundays. Hernandez will provide security coverage when Security Advisors are not available. He will develop training for Library staff on handling incidents, focusing on conflict de-escalation and with an anti-bias approach. He will update emergency plans and also implement other trainings.

It’s early to give specifics. But, he says: “My goal during these trainings is to empower staff to feel safe in the Libraries and help them create a safe and welcoming environment for all.”

Although new to the University Libraries, Hernandez is familiar with the U, having previously worked as a field supervisor for the U’s Security Monitor Program. Most recently, for the past six years, he was the field training officer for St. Catherine University’s Department of Public Safety. Hernandez and the Magrath library assistant are both Libraries employees and the person holding the latter role can support the work of the library beyond security responsibilities.

Security Advisors are not police

The Security Advisors are not police. They wear a different uniform, they do not carry weapons, and do not physically intervene in incidents. Their training includes first aid, preventing harassment, combating implicit bias, and verbal defense and influence. They can help with medical issues, emergencies — like fire, water leaks, and so forth — and security incidents. They will assist with library closings, provide basic customer service, and, if needed, aid emergency responders.

The rare situations when 911 should be called include a crime in progress, a threat to safety of staff or patrons, a trespassed person in the library, a bomb threat, or a hate crime. Security Advisors do not perform arrests. Yet having full-time staff does offer a welcome sense of security for Libraries staff and student employees at closing times or when incidents occur.

Safety tips

Additional safety recommendations can be found on the U’s Public Safety website. People on campus may wish to:

  • Download the RAVE application for use on your mobile device. The app provides users a virtual walking buddy and a direct connection to the campus 911 center as you walk across campus.
  • Students can check out the walk escort service and Gopher Chauffeur if they would like assistance returning to a campus residence or car.

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