Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 289 2016
During the time we waited for information, student reactions ranged
from relative calm to agitation and anxiety. Quite a few were worried
about missing classes and/or exams, and they wondered where their
friends were and whether they were safe. They also wanted their families
to know they were okay. One of the roles we library staff members played,
in addition to offering places to shelter, was to keep calm and be as
reassuring as possible. We were the parental presence, so we talked with
them, sometimes in a light-hearted way and other times trying to be as
comforting as possible. Since it was the week before finals, we were lucky
to have snacks and water on hand, and we gave those out to students in
an attempt to help them relax.
What about Those Purported “Shots Fired at Young
Research Library”?
In situations of this nature, the police have to check every rumor, and
they have to be prepared for the worst. We realized this after the fact. But
while the event was going on, to be sure nothing terrible had happened in
YRL, the police sent a SWAT team that swarmed into the lobby, ordering
the few library staff and students who were there to lie spread-eagled on
the floor. It made no difference to them that some of the staff were from
library administration, and they did not accept the assurances of the
library’s community service officer (employed by the UCLA police) that
nothing had happened on the fifth floor or anywhere else in the building.
The police were in charge and had their assault weapons at the ready.
For members of the campus community who are accustomed to thinking
of the police as community members who share the same values, it was
extremely jarring to be subjected to this kind of treatment and suspicion.
Once the police determined that nothing bad had happened in YRL
and there was no threat, they began to make plans to march the YRL
occupants (staff, students, and anyone else in the building) off campus.
This, too, was a disturbing development: many people had driven to
campus and had their cars in one of the parking garages, yet they were
told that they’d have to leave the cars and find alternative ways to get
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