SECURITY guards have been drafted in at an Edinburgh’s oldest public library to protect bookworms from violent outbursts, antisocial behaviour and drunks using desks as makeshift beds.
Edinburgh’s impressive Central Library on George IV Bridge was the first public reading space in the city – with a prestigious history that dates back to 1890.
The library is open and free to use to all – but it seems that some members of the public have not been heeding the librarians’ strict calls for peace and quiet.
On a Saturday afternoon at the beginning of the month an alleged assault took place in the library – leading to a 38 year-old man appearing in court.
Readers have also expressed concerns over drunks abusing the staff and sleeping on the desks – taking advantage of the quiet to grab some shut-eye.
Now – in an unprecedented move – Edinburgh City Council (ECC) have brought in security staff to guard the door from rowdy would-be readers.
Library users at the Central Library have said that anti-social behaviour has been on the up in recent months.
They have even claimed that some customers have begun to avoid it all together as a result of the regular disruptions.
One student said: “It was pretty bad, they were coming in just for a sleep.
“It was intimidating for people studying and the staff shouldn’t have to deal with the rowdy drunks looking some somewhere out of the rain.”
ECC have said that the library is the first of the 28 under their management which has required security staff on the door.
A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council said: “In response to an isolated incident at the library recently, security measures have been brought in to reassure staff and customers and to promote a positive use of the library.”
A spokesman for Police Scotland said they were called to the library on March 5 over an incident involving allegations of assault.
He said: “Police in Edinburgh were called to a business premises on George IV Bridge at around 2.40pm on March 5.
“A 38 year-old man was arrested for the assault of a man, also aged 38.
“He appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on March 7.”
The move to bring in door staff comes just one month after figures revealed that 72 people had been given month-long bans from Edinburgh libraries between April 2012 and March 2015.
Documents showed that vandalism of library property, drunken behaviour and visitors abusing staff after being woken up were all among the incidents recorded at libraries across the capital.
Other incidents have included episodes of racist abuse and an alleged attempted fire-raising.
Airguns were also fired at one library, whilst a number of people were reported to the police over alleged acts of violence.