Our View: Keeping the library incident in perspective
April 6, 2011
■ April 6, 2011: Calm returns to Steamboat Springs’ library
Steamboat Springs — Monday's incident in which a 14-year-old Steamboat Springs boy was stabbed in his hands during an altercation with a vagrant man at Bud Werner Memorial Library may have been alarming, but it wasn't representative of the overall safety of our community or the state of affairs at a library that has become one of the most treasured public institutions in the city.
The knee-jerk reaction would be to call for increased security at the library, but we don't think that's necessary. We do, however, expect library officials and staff to discuss Monday's incident in detail and review their own policies and procedures to make sure supervision is being conducted in an appropriate manner for the venue. Chris Painter, the library's executive director, said her staff spent much of Tuesday afternoon doing exactly that.
That said, let's not allow what appears to be an isolated, one-time incident influence changes that would detract from all that makes libraries, particularly Bud Werner Memorial Library, a wonderful place to spend time. When voters in 2005 approved a $11.4 million renovation to the library, skeptics — this Editorial Board was among them — questioned the value of spending so much money on a want versus a need. What we've seen since the library was completed in September 2008 is a modern, clean and beautiful facility that attracts a steady stream of visitors throughout the day. It's become the place for reading, quiet reflection, getting work done in a peaceful setting, surfing the Web, sipping a cup of coffee, browsing magazines and newspapers, and more. Dedicated children's and teen areas, community meeting rooms and more have made the library attractive for visitors of all ages.
In short, our library has become what all libraries should be — a place for everyone. On Monday afternoon, a public institution that rightfully opens its doors to people from all walks of life became the scene of an unfortunate and scary incident. Time will tell who played what role in the altercation in the teen reading area. But as a community, let's not lose sight of the fact that it was one incident on one afternoon and not at all reflective of the safe and nurturing environment at Bud Werner Memorial Library.