Longview library cancels lock-in due to unruly teens

Longview library cancels lock-in due to unruly teens
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 3:29 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 20, 2023 at 7:26 PM CDT

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Officials at the Longview Public Library will be discussing how they will handle their teen lock-ins in the future after some teens became so unruly the lock-in was canceled. Longview Police tell us one juvenile was taken to the Gregg County Juvenile Detention Center after the incident escalated in the parking lot.

Longview Public Library Youth Service Supervisor Terri Nalls says the library was holding their three times a year “Library After Dark” teen event Friday night.

“Most of the kids were doing things we always do, having pizza, socializing. Just doing things that teenagers do. But we did have some kids who were not following directions and were being unsafe in the library. We did have some kids damaging the library,” Nalls said.

She says it happened in the teen section of the library where kids were:

“Getting on the little electric scooter and running into the drywall and throwing books around and breaking some things. And so, it began to feel unsafe,” Nalls said.

She says a gouge in a bookshelf, a chunk of missing drywall and a broken sign holder showed where damage was done.

“I did have a couple staff members who told me they could smell alcohol and possibly some drugs,” Nalls said.

She says staff didn’t report seeing drugs or alcohol, but that’s when she called Library Manager Jennifer Eldridge and they decided to cancel the lock-in. Nalls says they generally have as many as 80 kids.

“But there was a large group of kids who we’d never seen before and just probably doubled the numbers that we normally see,” Nalls said.

She says 187 teens logged in for the 13 through 18-year-old 6:30 pm to midnight event.

“I didn’t see any kids that we were familiar with doing anything that they didn’t normally do,” Nalls said.

But when things were damaged and many books thrown on the floor, they shut it down and called the Longview Police non-emergency number. Kids were asked to call their parents to pick them up.

“More than fifty I would say were being out of control,” Nalls said.

She says many of those kids went outside to the parking lot. The ten chaperones inside didn’t see what happened in the parking lot, but Longview Police tell us one juvenile was taken to the juvenile detention center charged with disorderly conduct.

Nalls tells us the staff holds a review meeting after every lock in. She says this time she believes changes will be made before they do one again.