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Saskatoon libraries are shortening hours after staff and security guards were attacked by “drunk patrons.”

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Several libraries in Saskatoon are reducing their hours after a frightening incident in which a staff member and security guard were attacked.

“Drunk patrons” of the Carlyle King Library in the city's Massey Place neighborhood punched a staff member and physically assaulted a security guard, according to a statement from the Saskatoon Public Library.

“While these types of incidents are rare, the library takes each one very seriously and we are committed to providing a welcoming, safe and harassment-free environment for the library’s users, staff and contractors,” a library spokesperson said in an email .

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“In response to the growing number of concerning incidents in libraries, we are introducing some changes to opening hours at four locations.”

From Monday the opening hours of the Frances Morrison Central Library, the Dr. Freda Ahenakew Library, the Mayfair Library and the Carlyle King Library at the Cosmo Civic Center, where the alleged attacks occurred, shortened Monday through Saturday hours to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The opening hours on Sunday remain the same, the branches are open from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m

The library said the decision was difficult, but staff spoke of the challenges they faced in the evenings when many social services are closed. The library insisted that it was not its job to fill the gaps.

“Over the last few years and months, we have seen a decline in community services available to the most vulnerable people in Saskatoon. At the same time, we are observing that the number of people living in difficult situations is increasing,” the library said in a statement.

“We cannot close the gaps created by the lack of essential social and health infrastructure in our community. We cannot be a place to sleep, store large amounts of personal items, or consume drugs and alcohol. We cannot be the primary access to washrooms or air-conditioned environments in the evening hours.

“People come to the library to learn about support services in times of need, but our staff cannot refer people to community services that are unavailable or overwhelmed due to a lack of resources.”

In the coming months, the library announced that it will work with staff, the public and partners at the local, regional and national levels to find solutions that will enable the Saskatoon Public Library to focus on its core mission of providing library services , to concentrate.

The city is also working on building a new central library downtown. The construction of the new library at 321 Second Ave. N is expected to begin this summer, with an opening planned for 2027. The project's total approved budget is $134 million.