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Security measures established at library

September 13, 1998

Musselman HSBy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




INWOOD, W.Va. - Berkeley County's first attempt at bringing a public library together with a school library means special precautions for students, officials say.

Musselman High School Librarian Bonnie O. Brannon said she does not want to cause excess concern, "but we have to be realistic with the youngsters."

The school plans to have a security guard in the library area day and night in case anyone causes problems there, she said. Also, there is a separate entrance for the public, and adults are not supposed to enter the interior hallway of the school unless they have a visitor's pass, Brannon said.

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Finally, officials will make sure there are at least two people working in the library.

Combining the Musselman High School library with the South Berkeley Branch of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library is believed to be the first project of its kind in the state.

The South Berkeley branch outgrew its office in a building similar to a portable classroom along W.Va. 51 east.

Library officials asked the school system about two years ago about combining their operation with the library at the new high school on U.S. 11 just south of Inwood.

Officials visited several places in the country where the concept had been tried, including a school in Middletown, Del., Brannon said.

"It's a bold effort on the part of the people in southern Berkeley County," said Charlotte Seibert, administrative assistant at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown.

"I can see why they did it," said Kathleen O'Connell, assistant director at the Washington County Free Library. O'Connell said combining a school library and a public library is a wise use of taxpayers' money.

In Hagerstown, officials have studied the idea, and at one time, there was talk of combining a public library with a senior center, according to Seibert and O'Connell.

But it's not always successful, O'Connell said. If the combined facility is in a downtown area, it can be difficult to handle problems like intoxicated patrons or loitering, she said.

The Hagerstown library, which is downtown on South Potomac Street, has problems about once every couple of months with undesirable people, O'Connell said.

She recalled one incident in which a man threw a chair at another person in the library. Fortunately, there was an undercover police officer in the library, who quickly subdued the man, O'Connell said.

"I don't know that Inwood would have that kind of problem," O'Connell said.

There are security guards at the Washington County Free Library and new library workers are trained to deal with people who might cause disturbances in the building, O'Connell said.

The new Musselman-South Berkeley Community Library also uses an electronic security system to protect its book collection. If any book is not checked out properly, a bar code inside the book sends an alert to library staff, officials said.

The security system is located at both the school and public entrances of the library.

"That's new for our youngsters. They've never had that sophistication," Brannon said.

The new Inwood library opened to the public last Wednesday. Visitation was slow for the first few days, with about 50 to 75 patrons from the public coming to the library, said Norma Coe, who runs the public library portion.

Coe said it may take some time for people to get into the habit of using the new library.

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