Don’t Bring it Here

In response/reaction to the New York Times article Downturn Puts New Stresses on Libraries, I make the plea that people please try and keep the drama (especially of the violent nature) out of the library.  Yeah, I know, it is a big request, and one that probably won’t do anything to change the levels of stress for staff or the number of upset patrons walking through the doors, but I still want to say it.

Here is the reality.  Yes, times are pretty tough for a lot people right now, but bringing all that angst and stress and piling it on other people, especially those people who may be trying to help you and others, isn’t going to solve anything.  If more people could pursue and succeed at mutual respect and patience then life in general would go more smoothly.  Sadly this isn’t often the case.

So, for library patrons.  Please respect library staff.  We appreciate that you have questions and needs and will try and help you to the best of our ability.  Remeber, getting upset at us does not get you more help.  In fact, more likely than not, it makes us less interested in actually helping you.  And please, just respect the policies that libraries have.  They exist for a reason, and the reason is not to inconvenience you, but instead to ensure the safety and respect of others.  If you can’t follow policies and procedures then take your business elsewhere, as all you are doing is causing more trouble for others.

For library staff.  Yeah, I know what it is like to deal with difficult patrons.  I worked for almost a year in a public computing area and got to deal with my fair share of unpleasant individuals.  I understand that it can take a lot out of you, and I admit that I wasn’t always the best at dealing with it myself.  But that being said, it is the job you have, and as such it is what you need to deal with.  Sure it might not be fair and easy, but the reality is that most things in life are rarely ever “fair” or “easy.”  Allowing patrons to get you upset isn’t going to make life anymore easy for you or others.  I suggest, when the tough comes knocking, taking a deep breath, counting to three in your head, and then approaching the situation as proactively as possible.  It is true that there are some situations for which a solution is not really present.  But often times the best way to cope with a difficult patron is just calm patience, acknowledging their stress and needs, and trying to offer them the best help or advice that is available.  Some might walk away still fuming and upset and there is nothing you can do about that, don’t beat yourself up over it or let it get to you.  Chances are though, if you succeed at remaining patient, and offer even just a small amount of information that can point somebody in the right direction, they will ultimately be grateful.  Again, it is our job to deal with it, and while we should never have to be put in a situation where we or property is in danger of being harmed (contact the authorities in these situations), we do need to be able to deal with the difficult as it presents itself.

It is a give and take  world.  I love that libraries are being used, and hope they continue to be and that people come to think of them as more then just a place with a bunch of books.  But with the increased use comes an increased responsibility on both the patron and the staff end; that is the reality.  Accept it, respect it, and make the library a pleasant place to be.



~ by Nathaniel on April 2, 2009.

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