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Dream Services for Nightmare Patrons
 

Dream Services for Nightmare Patrons

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Presentation for LYRASIS 2nd Friday Series Event, "Dream Services for Nightmare Patrons" 8/12/2012.

Presentation for LYRASIS 2nd Friday Series Event, "Dream Services for Nightmare Patrons" 8/12/2012.

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  • This section was originally titled “problem patrons” but I decided to change it because the problems I want to talk about aren’t really in the patron—but in the patron’s reaction to not getting something they want. Oftentimes (not always) the thwarting factor can be traced to poor or inappropriate customer service on the librarian’s end of the transaction. Usually a patron doesn’t become angry all at once: they go through a three stage progression. Disappointment: Patron wants something and is unable to get it. Frustration: Patron tries to make things right and is not successful; feels unappreciated. Anger: Dissatisfaction explodes in an inappropriate manner. Work to defuse angry situations; it’s the job of public services to make the patrons feel welcome and comfortable, remember! Don’t match their mood. Library Policies vs. Judgment Calls Know your policies, and apply them—but don’t let them stand in the way of good customer service!
  • Suggested tips for responding to swearing/bad language Address the patrons using formal names: Mr. Smith, Miss Roberts, Sir, etc. Confront them with their behavior Tell them how it makes you feel Let them know how their behavior is affecting the service that you know you’re capable of providing Ask for their cooperation Library Policies vs. Judgment Calls Know your policies!! Apply your policies BUT, DON’T LET THEM STAND IN THE WAY OF GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE!! Discussion of problem patrons
  • In Defusing the Angry Patron , Rhea Joyce Rubin lists twenty basic strategies for defusing anger. Set the tone for the exchange Breathe and count Treat the Patron with respect Listen Acknowledge and validate Focus on the problem Concede a minor point Avoid red flag words Don’t argue Disagree diplomatically
  • Don’t justify Don’t use one-upmanship Apologize Use bridge statements Define the problem Use the Salami Tactic (“When the patron’s problem is complex, try slicing it into manageable pieces…after listening and validating, say something like ‘It sounds as if there are a number of things we need to address. Let’s take them one at a time, ok?’”) Take your time Be assertive Don’t make idle promises Involve a colleague Every situation is different, every patron is different, but the best piece of advice that works in all situations is keep cool, and keep your wits about you.
  • Policies that relate to the big picture are policies that are well-thought out. In crafting policies or changing existing policies, start with specifics…get to the big picture later. Start with what happens in real life on the front lines of the library service desk when that policy has to be enforced. Does patron behavior really have to be corrected? It does if the behavior is threatening, disrespectful, abusive, disruptive, then of course. An important policy to have in place is a Library Code of Conduct.
  • A mention of the effect on a staff person's morale after dealing with a particularly difficult patron.  For managers/supervisors, remembering to check in with your staff member about it, just to ask "are you ok?" and sympathize a bit, can help a lot (LG)
  • Discussion Be “disarming” they are probably frustrated that something isn’t working right—sometimes something as simple as saving and rebooting can solve the problem. I would allow them to keep their dignity and finish bathing, but make them aware that bathing is not allowed in library bathrooms. Service points can work to provide a list of shelters and other organizations for referral It’s ok to exercise some authority here, or to be disarming through humor…remember, you can start out nice “Oh, do you want to help me shelve some books” or connect with them. Often times misbehaving children are in need of something to do—”I’ll go shelve a book, but are you interested in a book of your own, or maybe a game?” or offer to relocate them to an area where talking/discussion is allowed.
  • Never offer a ride to an unaccompanied minor. Contact the authorities and wait for them to arri Sometimes those that smell aren’t even aware of their odor. Again the “I don’t know if you’re aware, but….” approach can help them. They may react negatively, or they might be embarrassed. Make it “no big deal” offer them some possibilities for a place for a shower or bath (they might appreciate it) This one is more of a challenge in some sense…as long as the homeless/malodorous are at the library, not causing any major problems, they have just as much a right to use the space as anyone else. Sleeping, snoring, sweating, urinating—a big different situation in some sense too--when the situation is more problematic, it may be more appropriate to ask the patron to leave, or contact authorities. When someone is being not only disruptive, but is making inappropriate, even sexual advances, this has the potential to be a larger problem. Making the offending individual aware of the quiet space , and that others are trying to do research may solve the problem—sometimes the fact that someone recognizes what’s going on is embarrassment enough to stop the behavior. If not, certainly this is the kind of disruption where the authorities might intervene if it persists. I’ve always been hyper wary of “Flashers” this is more deviant behavior, and should be taken very seriously. Contact the authorities immediately to deal with anyone exposing themselves. A next step in this deviant behavior could be a sexual assault.

Dream Services for Nightmare Patrons Dream Services for Nightmare Patrons Presentation Transcript

  • Dream Services for Nightmare Patrons
  • 2 nd Friday Series
    • Casual talks on hot topics
  • Using this software
  • Nightmares: a discussion
    • Take a few minutes to share some of your nightmares
    • Not every detail, but types of situations you have worked through
    • Example: “Group of patrons organized a game of tennis with real racquets/balls in the government documents area”
  • Nightmare patron types
    • “ You’ve got it, why won’t you let me have it???”
    • “ I was told….”
    • “ I KNOW I turned this in last week, it had a blue cover!”
    • “ You’re my captive audience, I’m going to make you my psychologist for the day” (psychologist might also be “personal researcher,” “confidante,” etc.)
    • So, um, where are your books?”
    • “ My son’s science project is due tomorrow, I’m here to do the research for him while he’s at soccer practice”
    • Infinitely more, including the procrastinator
  • Deeper nightmares
    • Bathing/shaving in library bathrooms
    • Body Odor
    • Drunk (Drugs) and disorderly
    • Mentally Ill, Off Medication
    • Stalking via the public service desk
    • Kids left alone/gone wild
    • Crime/weapons
  • Finding solutions
    • Irate Patrons
    • Deeper nightmares
    • Policies
    • Training with scenarios
  • Dealing with irate patrons
    • “ Problem patron” or “troubled librarian?”
    • Progression:
      • Disappointment
      • Frustration
      • Anger
    • Don’t let patron anger stand in the way of good customer service!
  • What did they just call me?
    • Address them formally
    • Call them on it – confront the behavior
    • Tell them how it makes you feel
    • Their behavior affects the service you could provide
    • Ask for cooperation
  • Defusing anger
    • Set the tone
    • Breathe and count
    • Treat patron with respect
    • Listen
    • Acknowledge and validate
    • Focus on problem
    • Concede a minor point
    • Avoid red flag words
    • Don’t argue
    • Disagree diplomatically
  • Defusing anger, cont’d
    • Don’t justify
    • Avoid one-upsmanship
    • Apologize
    • Use bridge statements
    • Define the problem
    • Use the Salami Tactic
    • Take your time
    • Be assertive
    • Don’t make idle promises
    • Involve a colleague
    Rubin, Rhea Joyce. Defusing the Angry Patron. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2000. p45.
  • All in all, needs are simple
    • Recognition
    • Understanding
    • Importance
    • Comfort
    • Complaint handling
  • Policies
    • Must be reasonable
    • Must be enforceable
    • Must relate to the big picture
  • Four tests of a legally enforceable policy
    • It must:
    • Comply with current statutes & court cases
    • Be reasonable
    • Be clear
    • Be applied without discrimination
  • Sample public policies
    • Boston Public Library
    • http://www.bpl.org/general/policies/
      • Well organized
      • Different policies well defined
    • Marriott Library, University of Utah
    • http://www.lib.utah.edu/info/policies.php
      • Well organized (LibGuides)
      • Love heading “Patron Responsibilities”
  • Policies vs. judgment calls
    • Know your policies
    • Apply your policies BUT
    • Don’t let your policies stand in the way of good customer service!
  • Deeper nightmares
    • Bathing/shaving in library bathrooms
    • Body Odor
    • Drunk (Drugs) and disorderly
    • Mentally Ill, Off Medication
    • Stalking via the public service desk
    • Kids left alone/gone wild
    • Crime/weapons
  • Recognize potential threats
    • Problem patrons
      • Vandalism
      • Noise
      • Theft
      • Violence
    • Weapons
    • Sexual predators
  • Potential threats
    • Family issues
      • Divorce/break up
      • Domestic situations
    • Hold up
    • Bomb threat
    • Terror
    • Stalking
  • Handle with care
    • Know when to call police/security
      • Moreover, feel empowered, as a staff member, to do so without negative repercussions
    • Become familiar with agencies in the community that can help
      • Maintain a list of these agencies at service areas
      • Create partnerships that work
        • PLCMC—Social workers visit the library once a week
  • Employ sensitivity and understanding
    • Bathing in the restroom?
      • Address it, but let her finish—she’s preparing for the job interview that could get her back on her feet
    • Going crazy and cursing everyone out?
      • A perfectly normal, gentle man with a blood sugar issue
  • Training with scenarios: what would you do?
  • Scenarios
    • A patron slams the mouse and keyboard around on a public computer and mutters something about “…poor library service.”
    • You find a patron bathing in the restroom
    • After asking a teenager to be quiet, she tells you to “like…go shelve a book or something”
  • Scenarios
    • It is time to close the building, and an unaccompanied 8 year old child asks for a ride home
    • A homeless patron’s personal odor is offensive to everyone in the building
    • A man in the building approaches women trying to do research to “chat them up;” there have been several complaints
  • Thank you for attending!
    • Questions?
    • Professional Development
    • 1.800.999.8558
    • http://www.lyrasis.org
    • Russell Palmer
    • [email_address]