The Mark Twain Neighborhood Library in Cambodia Town. File photo.

The Mark Twain Neighborhood Library will not offer any in-person services through at least the end of July because of ongoing safety concerns that have worn down employees, Long Beach officials said Thursday.

Staffing shortages and “chronic” patron-related security concerns in and around the building prompted the closure on Thursday, Cathy De Leon, director of Library Services told the Long Beach Post.

The library, which serves about 3,500 patrons per month, will offer only to-go services until the city can resolve staff’s concerns, according to De Leon.

De Leon said there haven’t been any recent reports of physical violence, but staff members regularly face difficult interactions with patrons who require a high level of attention.

“It’s a public library and it’s in central Long Beach, and so we have a lot of patrons that come in that are high need that also have a lot of, you know, sort of internal trauma that they’re dealing with,” she said. “And so sometimes that results in, you know, either verbal altercations or … staff are in a position where they’re dealing with some very sort of volatile personalities.”

De Leon said the closure will give library staff an opportunity to rest and give the city time to improve the security situation.

“It’s to the point where folks are feeling a little bit uncomfortable,” De Leon said. “I’ll be honest, staff are a little stressed out.”

Currently, the library has private security contracted through the city. Going forward, De Leon said, officials will look at other options. They are also in talks with the police department, she said.

The Mark Twain Library also has a health educator who works in the facility to help connect homeless people and other patrons in need with services.

“She’s fantastic, but you know, the reality is that people just need more help,” she said.

Currently, the library system does not have any social workers on staff, but it’s something De Leon said will be considered.

Last year, the Billie Jean King Main Library also closed its doors to in-person services due to security issues. And earlier this year, three neighborhood branches, Alamitos, Brewitt and Dana, reopened after staffing shortages kept them operating exclusively for to-go services for more than six months.

De Leon said the system is making progress on hiring, but the 12-branch library system is still facing staffing shortages.

“The reality is that it just takes time,” she said of the city’s hiring process.

Until library officials can sort these issues out, the Mark Twain Library will continue offering only to-go services, which allow patrons to call the library to make requests and pick up items from staff, who will hand them off at the door.

Patrons can place holds and pick up print and audiovisual resources such as books, DVDs and Chromebooks. Anyone can also apply for and pick up new library cards.

To make reservations, visit the library’s website or call 562-570-1046. Items can be picked up during these hours: 

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesdays, noon to 6 p.m.
  • Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.