LEWISTON — After a librarian was assaulted this week by a patron at the Lewiston Public Library, city officials insist similar incidents are not becoming the norm.

Timothy Meeks Androscoggin County Jail photo

Lewiston police arrested 35-year-old Timothy Meeks on Monday after they say he shoved a librarian into a bookshelf and destroyed computers and tables on the second floor of the building at 200 Lisbon St.

According to a police affidavit, librarian Steven Bouchard told police when they arrived that Meeks had just left the building. Bouchard informed police that Meeks pushed him into one of the bookshelves as he was attempting to have Meeks leave the library.

Police caught up with Meeks in the area of DaVinci’s Eatery at 150 Mill St. several blocks away.

Arresting officer Cory Chamberlain said when he asked Meeks what happened, Meeks replied, “I got upset because I thought people were staring at me.”

The affidavit said Meeks destroyed property on the second floor, including some tables and computers.


Meeks was arrested on charges of assault, criminal mischief and violating conditions of release and transported to Androscoggin County Jail where bail was set at $250. A corrections officer said Thursday that he had been released on personal recognizance.

Asked about the incident this week, city officials said situations like Monday’s assault are not happening more frequently at the library. Deputy City Administrator Brian O’Malley said that since the first of this year, there have been eight disturbances addressed by police at the library, but “it does not appear that this is something that has been happening more often.”

“The city of Lewiston takes the safety of our employees very seriously,” O’Malley said. “The police responded to the situation rapidly and were able to arrest the individual. It is unfortunate that a staff member was assaulted.”

O’Malley pointed to the most recent library board of trustees meeting minutes that state: “Behaviors have been okay. No major problems.”

However, Mayor Carl Sheline said this week that the assault Monday is just the latest incident that staff are faced with daily, to the point where it is affecting staff well-being.

“The library has been operating as a de-facto shelter for quite some time now and the staff are on the frontline every day dealing with this reality,” he said. “We need a serious conversation about what security measures are required at the library going forward. We’ve already had a number of staff leave the library, and I’m concerned we’ll have more vacancies if we don’t act quickly.”


While the city has a number of private shelters, they operate during night hours only, and the city does not have a 24-hour shelter.

O’Malley said city administration “has conversed with members of the library board of trustees regarding safety at the library.”

The board’s chairperson declined to make any additional comment about the arrest and library security.

O’Malley said there have been additional safety measures implemented recently, including a new policy that prohibits bringing in more than three bags of personal property that exceed a certain size.

This past spring, a policy change prohibited visitors from bringing carts and bedding and into the building. At the time, one homeless individual told the Sun Journal that he normally goes to the library after 3 p.m. when the Trinity Jubilee Center’s day shelter on Bates Street closed. At the time, library leadership said other libraries in the state and country have a similar policy.

O’Malley said the entire library staff also participated in de-escalation and conflict resolution training this past May, instructed by Dirigo Safety.


“The staff learned how to recognize, defuse and control aggressive behavior using crisis intervention techniques, communications in conjunction with an understanding of attitudes, emotions and behavior,” he said.

Sheline said the latest incident “is quite alarming and shows that revised bag policies aren’t enough to keep the staff safe.”

During budget talks this past spring, the City Council debated cutting library hours, with city and library officials ultimately settling on reworked hours that reflected a budget savings of roughly $12,000.

A statement from the library board at the time said the library was facing “staff burnout and turnover.”

On Tuesday, the city announced Joseph Houston as the new library director, succeeding Marcela Peres who left earlier this year.

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