Downtown Spokane library considering removal of bathroom blue lights

Downtown Spokane library considering removal of bathroom blue lights

Blue lights installed to deter drug use at the downtown Spokane library bathrooms may soon be removed.

Deputy Director Caris O’Malley said staff members have seen an increase in drug paraphernalia left in other parts of the library since their installation.

The blue lights make it difficult to find a vein. They were installed in the men’s bathrooms in March with the intent of reducing drug use, especially among those who inject drugs.

At a library board meeting in April, O’Malley said data show the lights have lowered the bathroom needle incidents, but have increased use in other areas of the library.

“We started looking for what is the actual solution to the problem,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley told KXLY4 that staff rarely find people using and more often find materials left behind.

At the recommendation of Lynne Everson, the former needle exchange coordinator for the Spokane County Health District, the library has added sharps containers in the bathrooms.

O’Malley said the situation is a slippery slope; while library staff do not want to legitimize the behavior, they have to realize that the drug use is a very real problem.

The blue lights remain in the bathrooms, but O’Malley said they will likely be removed. In the meantime, the sharps containers will be available for proper disposal of drug paraphernalia.

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