Welcome to Hackney libraries, where safety is a worry as violent users rant among the books

© Loving Dalston 2016 (supplied pic

SINCE THIS WEBSITE’S revelations in June 2016 of eruptions of violence in Hackney libraries, more stories have come out. 

Loving Dalston has been speaking to staff, despite, they say, having been told not to talk to anyone from the site.

One or two librarians have contacted the site to explain, sometimes tearfully, how frightened they are for their safety and how horrible it is to face racist and personal taunts regularly, especially from the often strongly built “lost boys”, insecure attention-seekers exploding with alone-against-the-world resentment.

Other librarians have confirmed the following stories posted anonymously to the editor. The incidents described occurred several years ago and staff say similar disturbances are frequent.

Here are some reports, edited (to protect staff anonymity) from text messages passed around  librarians. The whistleblower’s point is that they are by no means the most serious disturbances; just, he /she writes, “bread-and-butter stuff”. But stuff that no employee should have to endure:

* At 1.15pm a guy went manic… walked to a bookshelf and tossed all the books from the shelves on to the floor! Books hit head of a person sitting on a green chair.

Manic went to the reservation shelves and pulled them down but luckily no one sit on those green chairs. It would have killed him.

© Loving Dalston 2016 (supplied pic
What the..?!? A librarian despairs at the latest shelf-unstacking

He was about to walk out and I went towards him… suddenly he tried to get something out of his pocket but one of the security guards came in. About time!

Manic saw him and try to go towards him with something in his pocket. But then he went out of the building. 

Then more  trouble around 4pm… in teen zone big fight from Urswick schoolkids. All the books came down from the shelves.

* Mr A, a gentleman I knew had been recently banned from the library, was booking himself on to a PC.  I went  to inform the duty manager.

On our return, Mr A was already being abusive to a member of staff…

The manager then spoke to Mr A, explaining that he was banned from the library and asked him to leave.

Mr A became very agitated, shouting and using foul language, threatening words and gestures.

A security guard, called from the ground floor to assist, asked Mr A to lower his voice and leave…

Mr A was making allegations that he was being victimised by staff…

The situation was getting out of hand, Mr A threatening the guard and asking him to “Step outside” and saying things like “I will sort you out… Remember my face. I will be after you”.

The police were called. Eventually Mr A was persuaded to leave.

© LovingDalston.co.uk (supplied)
Idiocy in the aisles: scenes from Hackney libraries

He was arrested and charged with threatening behaviour.

* Shouting was emanating from the public PC section of the (Hackney Central) library. I went to see what was happening.

There was an animated discussion between a single male and a male and a female, who appeared to be together. There was already a confrontation with verbal abuse and threats of violence passing between both parties.

I started to try to calm the situation by asking all parties to exercise restraint.

A second colleague arrived and after a minute or so he suggested I go to alert the library management of the situation while he stayed with the individuals in question.

I asked a duty manager to attend. Shouting and threats continued and eventually the police were summoned.

Comments I heard followed a theme on these lines: the female describing the male as a “monkey” several times and the apparently unaccompanied male addressing her as “fat bitch”.

This man then told the woman’s male friend to “Stop hiding behind your girlfriend and step outside”.

I was told that couple were subsequently charged with “racially aggravated threatening behaviour”.

My informant comments: “The managerial team are akin to a dysfunctional family, although they all defend one another’s mistakes to protect their own positions.

“Some frontline staff try their best but are undermined by managers who look the other way and don’t like to call the police even when violence breaks out.”

It should be emphasised that though these reports come from several yeas ago, they have been shown to several staff members, some of whom say the situation is worse. Loving Dalston asked Unison, the staff union, to comment, but its Hackney in-house representatives did not respond.

Hamish Scott 200916

* Backstory: Readin’ an’ a-ruckin’ in Hackney libraries

HackLib12: CLR James Library Dalston Lon E8 230112 © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
Teenage dreams: a display at the CLR James created by true library fans

All pictures on this website © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com, unless otherwise marked, and all for sale for reproduction, apart from the photographs taken after library disturbances

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