New Hampshire

NH Library Responds to Illegal Activity With Restroom Locks

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A public library in New Hampshire says it is being forced to lock bathroom doors in an effort to protect kids from witnessing drug activity.

Police say they respond to the Dover Public library about twice a week.

The library director says that she's concerned about people's safety and that it's time for a change.

"Sometimes people just sneak in, go do a drug deal, and come out, and we don't even know what's happened," said Director Cathy Beaudoin.

She says it's not a Dover problem, but something that's happening in public buildings across the state.

What's uniquely concerning about the situation in Dover is that the public restrooms are directly across the hall from the children's room.

"We get about 600 people a day in the library. It's my job is to make sure they feel safe and secure," Beaudoin said.

She says those job requirements though have changed over the past few years.

"Sometimes, we're counselors. Sometimes, we're temporary medics until regular medics can get here," Beaudoin said.

She and her staff are calling police at least twice a week for people under the influence in the bathrooms.

"We've found needles and drug paraphernalia inside and outside the library," she said.

And it's no secret to library regulars.

"I was here one day when something happened that wasn't so good," said Sarah Chapman of Nottingham.

The library has already installed cameras in the hallways, and now Beaudoin is planning to lock the bathroom doors so guests will have to ask for a key.

"I hope it cuts down on the number of long stays in the bathroom, as we will be monitoring more closely," she said.

It's a small step to address a huge problem and a slight inconvenience that visitors say is well worth it.

"It's unfortunate, but that's what you have to do," said Dover resident Sandy Millman.
Police say nothing has ever turned violent at the library and they hope it stays that way.

The whole area is a focal point for patrols, as it is right in the heart of downtown.

The bathroom doors weren't locked yet as of Wednesday.

Beaudoin says it will cost the library about $1,000 to change the locks, and she hopes to get it done as soon as possible.

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