The Library Environment

Jun 07, 2018
Written by cmcguire

Since January, 56,752 people have visited the Library. The vast majority of those folks used our services and facility with no problem whatsoever. However, like every other public space that attracts thousands of people, we sometimes have to manage unacceptable behavior. It is a fact of life. Humans do some very ill advised things in stores, on the street, in parks, at sporting events, behind the wheel, just about everywhere. In 30 years of library work in five states, I have seen some doozies including a very inebriated man carrying an ax, a loaded gun left on a table in a children’s department and a live skunk shoved into a book drop. They don’t teach how to tackle these gems in library school.

At the Leavenworth Public Library, 23 written incident reports have been filed this year. Nearly all of them reflect minor violations of policy such as sleeping, eating, kids making noise etc. We have asked the police department to issue trespass orders for five individuals involved in more serious incidents. Trespass orders ban the recipient from library property for one year. These numbers and the incidents themselves are not out of the ordinary for a library that serves a community our size. I have seen better, I have seen worse but all libraries have their share of problems.

Security is very important to us. We take our responsibilities in this area seriously and have focused on this subject with our staff. Employees circulate throughout the building as they do their work and make rounds through public areas on a regular basis. All of our employees are empowered to enforce our Patron Code of Conduct at all times, up to and including calling the police if necessary. We act on incidents we witness directly and respond to patron reports in a timely manner.

One key factor in successfully managing incidents is information. No public institution can have eyes and ears in every place at all times. Not all patrons report problems, some report them days after the fact. We encourage all library users to let us know immediately if they see or hear anything out of the ordinary in the Library or on the property. If you want to see the framework of rules we enforce, please ask for our Patron Code of Conduct or view it on our website under About Us/Policies/Patron Code of Conduct. It is posted in various places around the Library. The Code addresses specific behavior but cannot anticipate every event. The overriding expectation is that every patron should be able to use the library freely without being unduly disturbed by another. It’s a simple concept that we apply fairly and consistently.

Many of us tend to fixate on the bad and forget the good. After we have a bad one at the Library, we remind ourselves that thousands enjoy wonderful experiences here. They share them on our website and tell us in person. Those comments are appreciated by us all.