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Modern libraries serve a far broader mix of people and personalities then almost any other public service organization. And by far, the majority of library patrons are pleasant, cooperative, and appreciative of our services.

A certain percentage, however, range from difficult, to demanding, to angry, to irrational, to downright scary. These patrons require special attention, special skills, and special strategies if we are to interact with them effectively and make our libraries safe and sane places for us to work in and feel good about.

Workshop Description: This unique all day workshop will provide training in the development of the actual verbal, emotional and physical interpersonal skills we need to turn conflict into cooperation, and successfully deal with the most challenging types of patrons.

The workshop's focus is on real library dynamics. Its unique, hands on - what to do - training emphasis goes to the heart of addressing a topic that concerns every library employee.

Preliminary Course Outline

  • The Team Approach - Understanding the Rules of the Game
    • Teamwork, clarity, and consistency - the cornerstones of safe and sane libraries
    • Why 10% = 70%, and 90% = 30%
    • Taking the lead - setting the tone
    • Document, document, document
    • Management and staff - hand in hand - shoulder to shoulder
  • Knowing Who's Who, Knowing What's What
    • The safest barrier - customer service imperatives
    • Who is the most challenging - can you name 5 types?
    • Triangulation works, polarity, doesn't!
    • The rules
    • Help =/= satisfy
      • The zen of "no"
  • Face to Face - Walking the Walk & Talking the Talk
    • Recognizing trigger points and land mines...
    • Why do people yell?
      • What gets them to stop?
    • Body language! 65% of what you communicate is non-verbal!
    • Getting the 10% to really hear you...
    • It's OK to be honest - you won't hurt anyone's feelings
  • Response - Handling the Emergencies and the Urgencies
    • Emergency goals and responses
    • Calling the police and security
    • Physical confrontation - get away!
    • Knowing your facility
    • Documentation and follow through
    • Using community resources

Workshop Instructor: Edmond Otis