Police officials said the bomb threats at the Joliet and Bolingbrook libraries Thursday were unfounded but they will continue their investigation into those threats.
Bomb threats also have recently affected libraries in Chicago, Aurora, Schaumburg, Evanston, Addison and other communities. Authorities have not said if there is a connection with the bomb threats striking libraries in the Chicago area.
Those incidents were noted Tuesday by Illinois Secretary of State Alexander Giannoulias at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Giannoulias told the committee that librarians are facing threats and intimidation over “political attempts to ban books.”
“Just a few weeks ago, in the suburbs of Chicago, numerous libraries received bomb threats and were forced to close their doors. So I can tell you, in Illinois, it’s very real, and across the country, the problem is worse,” Giannoulias said.
Mallory Hewlett, spokesperson for the Joliet Public Library, said libraries north of Joliet received bomb threats “and now it’s made its way down here.”
“Libraries are getting different kinds of threats through [their] online chat system, different things from bomb threats to active shooters and things like that,” Hewlett said.
At 2:22 p.m. Thursday, officers responded to the Black Road Branch of the Joliet Public Library for a report of a bomb threat to the library that had been received online, Joliet police Sgt. Dwayne English said.
The building was immediately evacuated, along with the Ottawa Street branch of the Joliet Public Library, English said. Troy Craughwell Elementary School, which is next to the Black Road Branch, was placed on a soft lockdown during the incident as a precautionary measure.
Police uncovered no evidence of any sort of real threat. However, the unsubstantiated threat remains under active investigation.
Whatever the reason, it’s so sad to me that one person can turn a place of learning and community engagement into a hazard.— Jenny McCue, patron at Joliet Public Library’s Book and Bean Cafe
About 2 p.m. the same day in Bolingbrook, officers responded to the Fountaindale Public Library, 300 W. Briarcliff Road, Bolingbrook, for a report of a bomb threat, according to a statement from the Bolingbrook Police Department.
The Fountaindale library staff reported receiving a message through an online chat service which stated, “There is a bomb.”
The library was evacuated and nearby schools were placed on a soft lock down where the buildings were secured but classes remained in session, police said.
An investigation determined there was no “substantiated threat,” police said.
“This incident mirrors incidents that have disrupted library services throughout the Chicagoland area this week,” police said.
About 2:40 p.m., the Bolingbrook schools in the area of the Fountaindale Library were taken out of their soft lockdown status and the library was preparing to reopen.
The investigation remains open and Bolingbrook detectives “will be working in conjunction with agencies throughout the state to identify all involved parties,” police said.
Jenny McCue of Romeoville said she was inside the Joliet Public Library’s Book and Bean Cafe at the Black Road Branch of the Joliet library when a server approached her and started apologizing and saying everyone had to leave.
McCue said three other people were inside the cafe but about 20 came out from the library. She said she saw the police had “pulled up a couple minutes later and started blocking off the driveway and directing us out.”
“Whatever the reason, it’s so sad to me that one person can turn a place of learning and community engagement into a hazard,” McCue said.