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LA public library: Books, DVDs and illicit activities




A sign on the entrance of the Santa Ana Public Library warns patrons not to pick up needles or syringes. Library operations manger Heather Folmar said she has noticed them around the library grounds.
A sign on the entrance of the Santa Ana Public Library warns patrons not to pick up needles or syringes. Library operations manger Heather Folmar said she has noticed them around the library grounds.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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In L.A.'s public libraries, you expect to find books and DVDs, but a new investigation by KPCC media partner KNBC 4 found a lot more than that.

Illicit drug use and illegal activity are happening in and around certain branches. In some cases, the station's undercover TV producers were offered substances like crystal meth. 

Take Two guest host Josie Huang sat down with reporter Joel Grover to talk about what he witnessed during the three-month investigation. The full report debuts tonight Monday on KNBC at 11 p.m.  

Interview Highlight

What the reporters saw

Every single day, we saw people buying drugs, smoking crack, snorting crystal meth, shooting up heroin. A lot of this going on inside the library bathroom, where reporters are not allowed to film. But often this would go on outside of the library, too. There wasn't a single day where we didn't see two incidents of drug use. 

The head librarian's reaction

John Szabo, the head librarian, wasn't surprised when we mentioned the reporters saw illicit activities, but he was surprised at how frequently they took place. Szabo said this is not acceptable in our library place, and we will do something about it. 

LAPD and its role in library security 

The LAPD is responsible for the security of LA's public libraries. However, we saw one officer snoozing while someone was snorting crystal meth right next to him. The officers on duty clearly know what's going on, but often they decide to turn the other way. We have been in touch with the LAPD, trying to contact the chief for a solution. 

Highlights have been edited for clarity. Click on the blue media player above to hear the full conversation