Used needles add to growing safety concerns at McCully library

Photo: Hillary Chang

Used syringes found outside a public library are shedding light on growing safety concerns.

More than 20 of them were discovered right by the parking lot at McCully-Moiliili Public Library.

We’ve been looking into the problems public libraries have been facing recently, and a lot of it has to do with the homeless.

Security can’t keep the homeless out unless they’re causing problems, and we found out that at some branches, that’s happening more often.

Staff at the McCully-Moiliili branch say they were shocked at what they recently found. They’ve also been forced to call the police more often.

Branch manager Hillary Chang is still in disbelief. She and the security officer found the used syringes just scattered by the planter right outside the main door.

In the past they’ve found one or two, but nothing like this, so they called the police.

“Even the officer that came, he was just what how did this happen. It was just shocking. It really was just shocking,” Chang said.

Chang says there seems to a new wave of homeless coming here that tend to be a little more unstable, so they’ve had to call the police on average three times a week.

She adds that needles aren’t the only problem. There was another incident when a homeless woman was threatening a little girl who was at the library by herself.

“She was basically saying things like, ‘Oh, you know, I know you. I know where you live.’ Things like that,” Chang said. “The child was about in second grade.”

Chang told KHON2 she called the police.

Alice Laolao goes to the library with her son three times a week.

“Oh wow, it is disturbing. I mean, I’d be freaking out if I walk out to the parking lot to get into my car with my son,” she said.

It’s shocking for the parents who come here with their children. Some even decided not to go in at all after finding out.

“This is the first time I was going to drop them off and then do an errand and come back and get them, but instead I’ll just take them with me,” said parent Michelle Takaesu.

Dr. Kalani Brady says anyone who gets poked by a used syringe runs the risk of getting Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or HIV.

“If a child gets one of these diseases, hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV, that will affect them for the rest of their life. It’s a real tragedy,” he said.

KHON2 asked the state librarian if this is a problem in other branches.

In a statement she says, “Unwanted paraphernalia is found periodically at other locations, but is dealt with promptly by staff.”

KHON2 asked state library officials if more security is needed and was told that is not the answer. They say they are working with community partners to improve the situation.

We checked back in at the State Library downtown, which is a location that’s had problems with the homeless in the past.

Security there says it hasn’t gotten worse, but it’s not getting any better either.

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