O.C. Library Puts Focus on Safety in Wake of Mass Shootings

O.C. Library Puts Focus on Safety in Wake of Mass Shootings

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Library officials have been in contact with the police department to update their safety plan.

By MADDY VITALE

In response to mass shootings sweeping the country in recent months, Ocean City Free Public Library officials want to strengthen their plan to protect the patrons and employees.

During a trustees meeting Monday, Library Director Karen Mahar emphasized the importance of making sure everyone is doing what they should to be prepared for an active shooter.

Mahar noted that there are many people who come through the library, so that it only makes sense that everyone is up to speed on what actions they should or could take in an emergency.

She had a discussion with Fred Marcel, vice president of the trustees, about active shooter drills.

But it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have had the conversation about the drills,” Mahar said, adding that now, more than ever, she would like to go over the safety plan again.

“I’ve been in contact with the police department for the entire facility to get a new plan. What we have found out is you are to run, hide or fight,” Mahar said. “You run, if you could run. If you could hide, shut windows. Or if you have to, you fight.”

The library is looking to enhance security in the wake of the mass shootings in the country in recent months, including the school massacre at Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two teachers dead on May 24. In a shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., 10 people were shot dead in a supermarket on May 14.

Mahar pointed out that there is a police presence at the facility when it is open.

“We have a hub of our police station in the library. That is huge,” she said, “It has been great.”

Mahar added that the staff is also interested in more active shooter drills.

In other matters, Mahar said that the library’s programming, both virtual and in-person, is going very well.

“Everything is back to in-person, but because you could get such great names (with virtual programming) we have people log on from all over for virtual programming,” she added. “As I said before, the programming is awesome.”

She also noted in her report to the trustees that the library purchased new benches for the courtyard. The city’s Public Works Department is installing them.

The area, outside of the Community Center on the 18th Street side, was recently updated for use of library patrons and for city events, such as fitness classes.

The library will be part of a Health & Wellness Fair this Saturday at the Music Pier.

The bookmobile will be there, as well as Storytime for the kids with Children’s Librarian Taimi Kelley.

The outdoor space offers shade and a squishy rubber flooring for fitness classes and will soon also have new benches.