By LILY REX
Chesterton Fire/EMS removed a patron from a bathroom at the Westchester
Public Library’s Thomas Branch yesterday after an apparent overdose, CFD Lt.
Steve Himan reports.
patron, who Himan described as a man in his early 20s, was found unconscious
and unresponsive by Library staff at approximately 3:56 p.m. and regained
consciousness without medical intervention upon EMS arrival. Himan said the
man was transported to Porter Regional Hospital and given a dose of Naloxone
man was observed with drug paraphernalia on his person, according to Himan.
A police report on the incident was not yet available at deadline today.
happens that the Library Board’s monthly meeting was last night, and Library
Director Lisa Stamm briefed the Board on the incident.
Stamm said, though “upsetting and shocking” for her and the other staff
involved, the incident was handled without much fanfare.
reached out to some of my trusted colleagues to find out what other
libraries in our area do about this,” Stamm said. “Since it is illegal and
it is a crime to bring drugs into the Library, I recommend that we ban this
patron from the Library for a period of one year.”
Stamm said the ban is “open-ended,” but after one year, the patron would be
eligible to write an appeal for the restoration of his library privileges.
Stamm said she will work on replicating a form that other libraries use for
such requests: a “patron request for resolution” form.
Stamm also reported she would consult WPL’s policies on unacceptable
behavior and make additions as she sees fit.
Board President Rondi Wightman noted that the Portage Police Department
yesterday sent out a public safety alert advising that an unusually potent
batch of heroin laced with Fentanyl may be circulating in the area.
According to the alert, the warning was precipitated by the PPD responding
to three overdoses in less than 24-hours--two were fatal.
Wightman said she hopes the issue of an OD at WPL won’t arise again. “It
could be because of the bad drugs in this particular batch right now, so I
think and certainly hope its an anomaly,” Wightman said.
Board Vice-president Mike Livovich asked if its common for patrons to be
given the chance to appeal a ban after such incidents. Stamm said that’s
what she’s been told by other library professionals who have been in the
gives the patron a chance to clean up and to eventually come back,” Stamm
Stamm later told the Chesterton Tribune that the approach may not look like
a hard-line one to some, but it is. “To be banned for a year is a big deal,”
Library is very glad the young man survived, and we hope he’s doing better,”
Stamm said. “At the same time, our priority is first and foremost to protect
our patrons and staff.”
Lifetime bans at libraries are extremely rare, according to Stamm, and any
patron taking the opportunity to appeal his or her ban after the allotted
time would have to prove changed behavior. “It’s not like they can just fill
out a form and everything’s okay,” she said.