Appleton considers spending $175K to improve library security

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Some big changes could be made to the Appleton Public Library, as the city considers spending up to $175,000 to improve security.

The issue went before the city's finance committee Monday night.

The conversation comes just two months after a shooting took the life of an Appleton firefighter in the vicinity of the library, at the nearby Valley Transit Center.

Appleton Library Director Colleen Rortvedt said, "How people feel is very important. So, it's also very demoralizing to staff and to the community to feel like maybe their library isn't being perceived as a safe place."

The money would come out of a $5 million dollar capital improvement fund set aside for a new library which is still 3 to 4 years away from construction.

The proposal was unanimously approved by the finance committee.

The money would be used to upgrade door alarms, locks, and control access to employee-only areas.

It would also add more security cameras and update communication systems.

Alderman Kyle Lobner says the timing of this proposal just after the May 15 shooting isn't a big surprise.

"I think clearly the issues are related. The fact that this is coming to light now is at least in part because of all the things that have happened in that neighborhood this year, but this is an issue that's been around for a while, and it's not just the security upgrades, it's all the needs for upgrades in this facility if we're going to continue to operate it," said Lobner.

A year and a half ago, the library and the transit center both hired private security guards to patrol the grounds.

Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna told Action 2 News other changes could be coming, too.

"We're doing some other upgrades in the neighborhood, upgrading the cameras that are in the neighborhood, maybe looking at placing them in a little different places," said Hanna.

The full council is expected to vote on this funding next week.

If approved, the goal is to have the security changes in place sometime this fall.