Channel 9 uncovers long list of people banned from Meck. Co. libraries

By: John Paul

Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - On any given morning, a group of people will be huddled outside the main library in uptown Charlotte.

When the doors open, they shuffle in and security personnel go out to wake up other people sleeping by the door.

But not everyone is welcome.

Channel 9 uncovered a list of people banned from Mecklenburg County libraries. In the last three years, more than 150 people have made that list.

"We have a database of banned customers. We include photos of everyone we possibly can," David Singleton, the director of libraries, said.

At the Plaza Midwood branch, six people have been banned for assault, drugs and sexual misconduct.

At the main library in uptown, dozens were kicked out, and then banned, for drugs, sexual misconduct and disorderly conduct.

Even at ImaginOn, the library designed for kids, two people were banned for sexual misconduct, which Singleton explained may have been between juveniles.

"You might be talking about teens at ImaginOn,” Singleton said. “Sometimes teens don't make the best decisions.”

The number of people banned libraries could grow because of the opioid epidemic.

Libraries across the country are seeing people bring drugs in and overdosing.

Singleton said the library association is sounding the alarm by recommending some staff get trained to use Narcan, a drug that reverses overdoses.

“We're trying to be as prepared as we can be for what might be coming," Singleton said.

Medic has been called to the main library for eight suspected overdoses in the past three years.

Over the summer, the Public Library Association said libraries will be "acutely impacted" by the opioid epidemic.

Some have already seen overdose deaths.

Channel 9 visited Mecklenburg County libraries to investigate.

William Thompson waits to get into the library nearly every day to meet with some friends and get out of the weather.

"There's a lot of people getting run off for drinking inside and selling drugs," Thompson said. "They're selling crack, marijuana; they're selling heroin. They're selling everything at the library.”

Channel 9 cameras captured people passed out and camped out in the corners of libraries, but with no drugs.

When Channel 9 looked outside, there was a man drinking in front of the building and cans of alcohol.

"Alcohol has been an issue in the past,” Singleton said. “For example, we've found beer cans in the restroom."

Singleton said the writing is on the wall for opioids.

Security has been trained to handle overdose victims. Some cities across the country are even arming their librarians with Narcan, but that isn’t the case in Charlotte.

"We don't worry so much about overdue books, but we do worry about overdoses," Singleton said.

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