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Name calling, property damage: Public librarians harassed over vaccine mandate enforcement

Published: Sep. 18, 2021 at 5:42 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 18, 2021 at 5:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - All state facilities including public libraries are required to enforce the vaccine-or-test mandate, but they too are feeling the impacts of enforcement.

Before entering a state library, people must show their vaccine card or a negative test result, which must be taken within 72 hours. This is different from the city’s Safe Access Oahu Program which requires a negative test taken at least 48 hours prior.

However, public libraries are finding it a challenge trying to balance enforcing the new requirements and providing services to their guests.

“Unfortunately, one of our managers’ cars was scratched with keys,” said state librarian, Stacey Aldrich. “So our staff, I think are more worried because people are angry, and with that anger sometimes it’s up to other behavior.”

Aldrich says since the vaccine and test mandate went into effect Monday, some people have been verbally abusive toward librarians who are trying to enforce the rule.

“Calling us names or throwing their library card at us,” said Aldrich. “Our staff really want to serve the community and they care about the communities, so it’s hard when people are angry and they take it out on our staff.”

“Change is hard, people don’t like it and I get that there’s going to be frustration around it as we transition. But obviously, it’s not the librarian’s fault for enforcing rules,” said Tasha Garcia of Kailua.

“I think it’s just patience and trying to be understanding of those people is going to be the way forward,” said Bradley Beeksna of Kailua.

Now five days in under the new rules, some say it’s still taking some time to adjust to.

“I think I’m still getting used to, I needed to like have it on me to just make it easier to access,” said Beeksna.

“I think once we’re all on board and have our scannable QR codes, it’s going to make a whole process really seamless and efficient. I think it might be just a little tricky getting there,” said Garcia.

But Aldrich says they’re doing everything they can to provide access to books and technology.

The state librarian said people can checkout Chromebooks, connect to the library’s Wi-Fi and use them outside.

At the Kailua Public Library, they have an outdoor lanai that patrons can use.

“Well, the good news about the Chromebooks, is that if you walk away with it, it turns into a brick — you can’t use it anymore, so it has to stay on our property,” said Aldrich.

At the end of the day, Aldrich said all librarians ask is for people to cooperate.

“We know it’s a difficult time, but we just really asked for people to kokua and be kind,” said Aldrich.

If you don’t have a vaccination card or negative test result, the library can help you with your requests at the door.

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