When a patron of the Kenai Community Library prepared to sit down on one of the building’s chairs last week, he luckily noticed it was covered in a wet, paint-like substance before he sat.
After the patron reported the chair, library staff discovered last Wednesday that several chairs and a stool had been vandalized with something resembling paint or food die, said Director Mary Jo Joiner.
A long couch was also slashed on each section with what staff think was a knife.
Library staff are waiting to hear back from an upholsterer and the original furniture manufacturer to get estimates on how much it would cost to either fix or completely replace the couch and chairs, Joiner said.
“That would be a call that the city would make … and it sort of depends on what those dollars amounts are,” she said.
Since it’s the end of the fiscal year, Joiner said the library doesn’t have the funds to replace the furniture right now. The library gets its budget from the City of Kenai, so it would be up to the city to include money in their budget to fund the repairs or replacement, she said.
The furniture was purchased as part of a package deal with other items for the library five years ago, Joiner said.
“At those prices plus shipping we’re talking at least $5,000,” Joiner said. “I’m guessing it’s going to be closer to $10,000 or so.”
Joiner had actually noticed something wasn’t right when she came to work last Wednesday morning. Staff members told her some cords to a keyboard and computer mouse had been cut and a toilet had been purposely clogged sometime the day before, which she said she reported to police.
Joiner left that Wednesday for lunch at noon, and by the time she returned at 1 p.m., her staff approached her again, this time about the furniture.
“One of my staff members said, ‘If you think you were mad before … you need to come and see this,’” she said.
Joiner said Kenai Police responded and made a report. The chairs were near the fireplace in the library, while the long couch was in the “teen” section.
Sgt. Ben Langham said police are seeking any leads that would help find a suspect.
“The officer began an investigation, documented the scene … and that’s where we’re at right now,” Langham said.
Langham encouraged anyone with information about the vandalism to report it to library staff, the Kenai Police Department or Crime Stoppers.
Joiner said library staff are disheartened, but grateful nothing worse happened. She is stepping up the presence of staff who roam the library periodically, she said.
“We’re open a lot of hours for the convenience of the public and it’s kind of we’re here to help people and give them stuff and it’s really sad that, you know, we tried to give them a really nice place to hang out,” she said.