Safety concerns at Ottawa's public libraries has the city scrambling to find the money needed to beef up security, possibly causing the library to hold off on buying new items for its collection.

The library is undergoing a security review to determine how it should increase safety after a female staff member was sexually assaulted at the Metcalfe branch in December.

The library is now trying to come up with $400,000 to cover the cost of the security review and new safety measures.

"We knew that we had the approval of the library board to invest money in securing all of our branches and making them as safe as can be and we actually had asked for an audit on safety in libraries a year ago but we never had received it," said Coun. Jan Harder, chair of the Ottawa library board.

Security based on need

She says the security measures introduced at each branch will be tailored to fit the need of that particular location.

"They could be anything from maybe a security guard is the best person for this situation, or maybe we need to wear beepers, or we need to have a necklace like seniors have if you're prone to falls or something like that – we don't know yet but we're finding out very quickly."

The costs, however, mean the library will likely have to delay spending elsewhere. The board says that means cutting back on purchasing new material, and limiting extra summer hours and programs.

"We still will provide exactly what we have, but we will slow down the little bits of extra hours that we hoped to get for our public," said Harder.

Still, the extra security is something some library-goers want to see.

"There should be a little bit better security - maybe someone walking around making sure that no one's up to no good," said library user Anitya Bourgeois.

"I haven't ever come across any difficulties here and I do come here often. But, yeah, I do kind of sometimes notice a few sketchy people hanging around," added Pamyna Bourgeois.

A report on suggested security measures is expected to be presented to the board next month.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Jonathan Rotondo