Driven by a desire to serve his community, Martin entered a police cadet program through the Gresham Police Department, prior to joining Multnomah County. He also worked for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). That job helped him learn to talk to many different people every day and to understand complex security procedures.
Martin first worked at library branches while working as a facility security officer (FSO) with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department. He welcomed the library’s approach to safety and security and decided to join the library officially as a safety officer at Rockwood Library. Having grown up in the Rockwood community, Martin already felt a close tie to the neighborhood.
In 2016, Multnomah County Library added safety officers at some locations. Martin and the other safety officers are library staff, not police officers or security guards. They help patrons use the library successfully and apply the library rules. They also connect people with outside services and resources. Some safety officers also assist with shelving and other tasks.
With the Rockwood makerspace only a few years old, Rockwood Library has worked hard to find new and better ways to serve youth. Martin sees his position no differently.
Martin’s approach to safety and security includes finding ways to help patrons use the library without being punitive.
“I enjoy building relationships with patrons so when they come in the library and see me, they have a positive experience, rather than thinking they’re going to be followed around. I want everyone to feel welcome.”
Martin works to build relationships with the youth and adult patrons who use the library. Rockwood library is bustling after school, with many teens making use of Multnomah County’s only free makerspace. While the small library can get busy, Martin’s compassionate approach has helped decrease incidents, particularly among youth.
“For some, the library is a place of safety from other outside pressures or difficult personal situations,” says Martin. “Whatever their reason for being here, I want to help them use and stay at the library, which sometimes means needing to communicate the library’s expectations for conduct in the library.”
Having experienced some of the same challenges as the youth patrons at Rockwood Library, Martin knows firsthand what his life would have been like without a caring adult in it. He sees his position as a way to pay it forward to the community.
“The best ability is your availability,” says Martin.
People notice Martin’s contributions to the library. As one patron commented,
“. . .Martin is such a great and exceptional asset to "our family library" here at Rockwood. It is great to see someone that is always smiling and he just makes our trips to the library an all-around general excellent experience. Not to mention that he is very, very helpful... Thank you for hiring such an individual as him.”