Winthrop University officials said things are running smoothly since starting a policy Monday that limits public use of Dacus Library.
A Winthrop ID now is required to get into the building, but the public can use the library if they show they have a legitimate research need that can't be filled by the public library.
The Winthrop library had received about a dozen applications for use as of midday Thursday, six of which were granted, said Mark Herring, dean of library services.
"I knew there would be some dislocation of access for people," he said. "I also knew that some people wouldn't like the idea of having to make application. I would remind them if they try to go into any elementary, middle or public school, they will have to do the very same thing and those public schools are doing it for the same reasons we are -- safety of the school."
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There has been no public outcry in response to the new policy, Herring said. The library has received only a couple of phone calls asking about it, he said. The Herald has received at least one letter to the editor voicing opposition to the change and several comments on online message boards.
The policy was designed with the security of Winthrop students in mind, said Rebecca Masters, spokeswoman for the university.
According to university police reports, incidents in and around Dacus Library increased from 2006 to 2007.
So far this year, officers have filed official incident reports for 15 calls to the library, compared with two last year. Three of those 15 were to report found property, and one was to report weather damage to the building.
Seven reports were about stolen bicycles, cell phones and money, and four were to document incidents of public drunkenness or suspicious behavior in and around the library. In at least two incidents, reports state someone made harassing or threatening comments to people inside the building.
Internal operations records from the police department, which are separate from official incident reports, noted five more instances of people acting suspiciously or mischievously in the library in 2007. At least one of them involved library visitors using Winthrop computers to look at pornography.
In most cases, the people involved were given trespass warnings that banned them from the property for a set period of time.
Bob Gorman, head of reference at the library, said not all incidents are reported to the police. For example, if someone is looking at pornography on the computer, they might be asked to leave, but the police would not be called.
Gorman said an increasing number of people have been visiting the library and some unfairly monopolize computers.
"We just have been overwhelmed with community patrons," he said. "We have limited resources here. During the last year, it seems like it just grew and grew. We had times when our own students couldn't use our computers."
Gorman said he thinks library employees had different opinions about whether password-protected computers could have been a less restrictive solution, but there was agreement that some kind of action was necessary.
WANT TO USE WINTHROP'S LIBRARY?
If you want to use the library once and have a legitimate reason to go there instead of the public library, you can schedule an appointment in advance or use the call box at the door to the library to ask a librarian for access.
If you want to use the library repeatedly for a research need that must be filled by Dacus Library, visit winthrop.edu/dacus/about/ accesstolibrary.htm to fill out an application. The library will respond within 24 hours to let you know if your application has been granted.