To get inside Bloomingdale Regional Public Library after 3 p.m. on any weekday, a patron has to navigate through a throng of teenagers, all refugees from the adjacent Bloomingdale High School.
They walk here. They sit outside and chat. They go inside to use a computer or finish up homework.
Authorities say one of them was here late Thursday when an 18-year-old girl drove up after-hours and tried to return some books in a repository. Kendrick Morris, a 16-year-old freshman at Bloomingdale High, is accused of raping the teen and beating her unconscious. He remains in custody at a juvenile assessment facility, held without bail.
Authorities said Morris came to the library after school, waiting for his mother to pick him up when she got off work.
Lots of students use the library that way, and sometimes it creates a problem, said Jennifer Heath, a parent who regularly takes her children to the library to work on school projects.
"A lot of people use it for babysitting," she said. "I feel sorry for the librarian."
A crowd of teenagers congregating at a library is not a bad thing, said Hillsborough library services director Joe Stines.
"I've been a librarian for 40 years," he said, "and this is an age-old question. Librarians embrace the youth coming in and see them as an opportunity."