Don’t Deputize Intolerance: Keeping Your Security Policies Safe from Your Patrons


  • Buzzy Nielsen State Library of Oregon
  • Jane F. Scheppke Crook County Library



library sleep policy, library no sleeping, library code of conduct, patron library rule enforcement, library security camera, law enforcement library, library surveillance BIPOC, library homeless


To live in rural Oregon is to live in tension. Crook County exemplifies the tensions of living in rural Oregon in many ways, and not just because it is located dead center in the middle of the state. It also encapsulates the contradiction of some residents trying to keep a hold on a past they perceive as idyllic, while others live with the opportunities and harsh realities of the present. Crook County sees this contradiction reflected in its reliance on industries both historic and modern: ranching, wood products, and auto tires on the one hand, and data centers, health care, and hemp on the other. This tension can boil over into conflict, even when it comes to something as supposedly simple as a change in library policy.

Like in many other communities suffering identity crises, some people in Crook County, and its only incorporated town of Prineville, ran afoul of the rising use of opioids (Chaney, 2019). Those of us at the public library saw the effects firsthand. In 2018 and 2019, the library faced a confluence of opioid-adjacent situations. These incidents presented a serious security dilemma for the library where we worked as director and assistant director: How do we ensure safety for the most vulnerable patrons, including those experiencing adverse effects from drugs, while generally keeping the library welcoming for everyone? This dilemma led us to two security-related decisions: to forbid sleeping in the library and to install security cameras. Both decisions ultimately demonstrated how choices made, ostensibly, to protect patrons' physical safety, or to help some people feel more "secure," can adversely impact safety for patrons who are already marginalized.


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Author Biographies

Buzzy Nielsen, State Library of Oregon

Buzzy Nielsen (he/him) is the former Director of Library Services at Crook County Library in Prineville, Oregon. He has spent most of his career in small and rural libraries throughout Oregon. You probably receive more email from him than your best friend due to his current role as Program Manager for Library Support & Development Services at the State Library of Oregon.

Jane F. Scheppke, Crook County Library

Jane F. Scheppke (she/they) is the former Assistant Director of Library Services at Crook County Library. As of December 2021, they are a digital multimedia artist based in Salem, but the future is wide open. By the time this goes to print, they could be a master machinist and father of four based in Schenectady. Reality is what you make it.




How to Cite

Nielsen, B., & Scheppke, J. F. (2022). Don’t Deputize Intolerance: Keeping Your Security Policies Safe from Your Patrons. OLA Quarterly, 27(1), 18–24.