Sexual harassment from patrons has long been a significant issue for library employees, but front-line staff are often the ones who bear the burden of enacting change, while having the least amount of power in the workplace. It’s time to place the responsibility for enacting meaningful change where it belongs: with managers and administrators. This article looks at some of the best (and worst) practices for managers when it comes to supporting staff and addressing sexual harassment claims.
Posts Tagged ‘patron behavior’
Fines are a tangible reminder of the patron’s responsibility, the library’s importance, and the consideration of others.
Patron bashing—i.e. venting, ruminating, gossiping—might be the greatest failure when it comes to customer service and perhaps the greatest barrier to excellent customer service in libraries. It creates a toxic, negative environment that stunts innovation, wastes time, and waters down service. If that isn’t bad enough, patron bashing is a drain on our mental and organizational health.
It’s no secret to librarians that many patrons come to the library for more than our collections. Most people can find books and DVDs online. They can use our research databases without getting out of bed. For reference questions they can call, email, text, or instant message. We have reference resources that don’t circulate, and anyone who’s worked in a children’s room knows that parents don’t want to buy the thirty-five books their child wants that day, so coming to the library can be a life (and pocketbook) saver. Still, many patrons who come in the door don’t, strictly speaking, need our services. Many come for another free service we provide, albeit indirectly: human contact.
My library is small in both size and staff. We serve a fairly rural community. We are the kind of library and patron base in which we know people by first names, ask about their relatives, know their reading preferences and listen to their knock-knock jokes. Further, we all appreciate this small town and small community feel.
For a period of about six months I actually did both at the same time and I enjoyed the variety of it, working two different departments forced me to continually adapt. One thing I noticed is that the patrons, while they may come to both desks, may not have the same presence at both desks.