Hello fair readers!
As most library workers know, a job helping people in libraries can be insanely rewarding.
No no, not that kind of rewarding. Think of us around the salary line as teachers…but not quite so awfully paid. (sorry teachers but you know it’s true)
It’s rewarding because you get to legitimately help people in a world of information that is overwhelmingly gigantor. And most people appreciate that.
What do you think of when I say the word “problem patron”?
If you are a librarian, your mind probably goes immediately to a face. The face of that one person, or people, who give you an insanely difficult time. Who no matter how well you help them, they will never say thank you or even be polite. They might be a yeller
an aggressive question asker, or even a person with a mental illness who just happened to go off his meds. It might be a student who believes they are entitled to everything and more and that you will do it for them. Or a professor who doesn’t understand that librarians are professional, highly educated individuals…not their personal info-slaves (i.e. grad assistant).
One fact remains the same: librarian have to deal with very difficult people every day.
So how do you deal with it?
I would say that many librarians just grit their teeth and bear it. Answer questions, stay polite, then run to the back and take out your frustration on a piece of paper or a keyboard or something. And is this the best policy? Should we still help people who are awful? And mean? And rude?
Yes we should.
It is rough and it is hard. Being underappreciated and underpaid is one thing. But then on top of that, dealing with total jerks is just difficult.
However, what is the very first principle in the library code of ethics?
We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
It is our *duty* to help people in a professional and kind manner. No matter the patron or the anger. It’s hard and it’s difficult but we do it.
Now, I’m not saying we have to help people who threaten us or scare us or make us feel unsafe in any way. That is different. That is why the library gods invented the security guard.
To save our librarian butts when the patron gets a little too problematic.
But sometimes people are just having bad days. Sometimes there are awful things going on in their lives that we cannot understand. And every now and again, when you are still insanely nice to someone who is being cranky, they crack. And get a slight smile.
And you *know* you have done your job well.
Have a lovely week fair readers. And good luck with those problem patrons.