(Excerpts from, "LIBRARIES IN CRISIS: SAFETY AND
SECURITY IN TODAY'S LIBRARY, Or: I've Seen Fire and I've Seen Rain, "by
Patricia Davis, special services consultant for the Texas State Library)
Acknowledge the presence of library users. As well as
being friendly, welcoming and a means of promoting goodwill, this
is also a way of saying, "Hey, I know you're here. I will remember
you. You have been seen. Don't steal anything. Don't cause any problems."
- Be aware and be prepared:
Take note of how many people are in the library or
on the floor where you are working, what they and library staff
are doing, and where they are located.
Know what is happening in the library. If you are
alone, keep your duties down to as few as possible and concentrate
on the people in the library.
Be calm, firm, and polite. When you first approach
a person causing problems, be nice, then change to authoritative
if it becomes necessary.
Inform an individual that they are breaking a rule,
ask them to comply, and then thank them for doing so. When discussing
a problem situation, keep your palms up, never point, make "I"
statements, and never turn your back.
Call for help any time you feel uncomfortable or threatened
by a situation or by an individual.
- Use phrases such as the following when asking a person to leave, to
change their behavior, to follow a rule, or when a person is disturbing
other library users or staff: "I'm here to help you."; "We're
going to work this out."; "I hear you."; "I understand.";
"If I can't help you, I'll get someone who can."
- If you cannot calm an irate person, motion to someone on your staff
to come to your aid. Often a situation is diffused simply by having
a third person step up and take over. If you are alone or feel threatened,
distance yourself from the individual and call for help.
- Document every security problem, rule violation, and potential problem
that occurs in the library. Keep an ongoing log with the date and time
of the incidents, the library staff involved, a description of the problem,
and the person or persons instigating the problem. When you have the
name of those causing the problem, add the names to the log. If you
do not know names, make one up that will help you and your staff remember
the incident and the person. Do keep in mind that the name you choose
may be seen by law enforcement officials or a judge, so be diplomatic.
- Review your security manual and rules regularly. Review what is working,
what is not working. Keep emergency numbers up to date. Have new employees
read the manual. Make certain emergency exits remain accessible and
evacuation procedures are still applicable. Know where the emergency
flashlights are and if they are working. Maintain a good working relationship
with your security officers.
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