Patrons uneasy as library becomes hot spot for heroin users

NORTH BEND, Wash. -- Patrons and staff at the North Bend public library say heroin users have taken to shooting drugs in the library bathroom, and police are now stepping in to stem the problem.

Soft music welcomes patrons into the North Bend library, but what some people have seen in the restrooms lately is not so welcoming.

Library users say they've seen an uptick of mostly young people locking themselves in bathroom stalls for an unusually long time.

"You can see people come out and they're messed up," a patron said.

Library workers have also discovered syringes and tin foil left in the stalls, which police say is evidence of addicts shooting or smoking heroin.

That news isn't sitting well with residents who come to the library for peace and quiet.

"If I was a parent, my kid wouldn't go into that bathroom," said one library user.

Library officials have taken action to stop the problem, including simple things like propping open restroom doors and more closely monitoring who goes in and out.

"We've increased the lighting, looked at the building and grounds making sure the landscaping lends itself to security," said King County Library System Director Bill Ptacek

The library, North Bend officials and police met last month to tackle the problem. Officers are also making themselves more visible at the library, and the police chief said it's already making a difference.

"You can see right now is the peak time of the problems in the past, and now it's pretty slow," said North Bend Police Chief Mark Toner.