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The Basics

  • Do not create a problem by being overly authoritative or dictatorial.
  • Listen carefully and give the person your full attention.
  • Assess the situation and give the person a chance to ventilate.
  • Speak slowly and use a calm tone of voice.
  • Do not use phrases that would be considered moralizing, condescending, or offensive.
  • Use pauses and think carefully before responding.
  • Maintain eye contact and keep an acceptable distance from the person.
  • Explain the library's position in firm, unambiguous language. DO NOT become involved in bargaining or argument. This may cause the situation to escalate into a confrontation. Repeat the library's position firmly, as often as necessary. DO NOT allow yourself to be sidetracked from the main issue.
  • Take immediate action when it is clear that there is, indeed, a problem:
  1.  present suitable alternatives to the behavior which is causing the problem.
  2. let the person know what will happen if the behavior does not stop.
  3. have a written copy of the rules and regulations available.
  • If the customer will not accept what you say or advise, contact your supervisor.

Who to Call for Assistance

  • In emergencies call 911 or 6460 (Campus Security) immediately.
  • In nonemergency cases, the line of authority for referring disruptive behavior problems is as follows:
  1. From Student Assistants to Supervisor or Coordinator
  2. From Supervisor or Coordinator to Administrative Librarian and/or Facilities Manager
  3. From an Administrative Librarian and/or Facilities Manager
  4. The informal "buddy system" may be enough to discourage a problem situation from developing. Calling another staff person or supervisor into an area may avert a problem.

In any case, the area supervisor should be made aware of the situation.

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Updated September 15, 2005 . Please send comments to Ludwig Possie Web Administrator.
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