by Max Marbut
Mike Sigler and the Jacksonville Public Library security staff keep a close eye on things that go on at the Main Library and the other branches. They monitor everything from who visits the library to deliveries on the loading dock to fire alarms and even where the elevators are at at any given time.
Sigler, a native of Jacksonville, has been in the security business since he joined the U.S. Army at age 17 and was trained to man the door gun in the Huey combat helicopter. After his tour of duty with Uncle Sam was up, he went to St. Louis and joined the police department, which he said surprised his entire family.
“If you had asked me when I was a teenager if I would ever go into law enforcement, I would have laughed,” he said and laughed when he admitted, “I had quite a few conversations with the Dean of Boys at Forrest High School. Then when I joined the police force in St. Louis, my mother was kind of shocked that they gave me a gun.”
Sigler also spent several years working in corporate, private and Homeland security before he took over the operation at the libraries in 2005.
He pointed out while providing security at the network of facilities all over the county has some unique challenges, many of the tasks and missions he and his staff encounter are the same you’d find in a retail environment like a department store or a mall.
“The Main Library is one of Jacksonville’s largest and without a doubt most open buildings,” said Sigler. “We face security situations that are similar to shoplifting, like when people take a CD or DVD out of its case and then remove it from the building without checking it out. They’re stealing from the taxpayers because all those materials have to be replaced.”
He said everyone who works in the building contributes to the effort every day. Even with a room full of the latest equipment, security depends on all the people in the building working as a team, including the staff of library science professionals.
“You can’t do the job with just cameras and computers, no matter how many you have. I’ve never seen a more receptive group of librarians than those here at the Main Library. They want to know everything that goes on. They’re our foot soldiers on the floors. We all work together to make the library experience safe and friendly.”
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