The library held a Staff Development Day on Feb. 1 in an effort to strengthen our operational safety and security knowledge. Topics we learned about included fire extinguishers, active shooter training courtesy of our local police department, and fire drilling from the fire department.
In an effort to strengthen our response time to an emergency, we updated our safety manuals and trained on new procedures while also reviewing a complement of new equipment to make our building safer.
We updated everything from ice packs for little bumps and bruises to flashlights for power outages, bloodborne pathogen kits, first-aid supplies, fresh tornado shelter signs and labels for major equipment.
Staff members toured to review aspects of the building as one never knows when a pipe could burst, a boiler go afoul or an electrical short may happen and you need to know how to shut things down.
As part of the analysis of security needs, we updated our Patron Code of Conduct to include points to address copyright violations, including illegal downloads, and provide clear guidelines on respectful behavior expectations. Using a public space that is shared by many has a different set of responsibilities and keeping the library a safe and welcoming place for all is a priority. The code is very reasonable, and does provide a framework to moderate behavior as allowed by the Library District Act.
In addition to the Code of Conduct, we also have recently passed what is equal to an anti-harassment policy applicable in workplace situations. This applies to not only how staff members treat each other, it also sets a standard for how people working in the public eye should be treated. There are instances in which staff members in libraries are exposed to innuendo, suggestive behavior, monopolization of time when on public desks and more.
When we politely state, “Can I help you with anything library related?” it also may mean that we can’t engage in, for example, religious or political discussions and are frequently subjected to passionate personal opinion in a situation in which we will not express ours. It doesn’t mean we don’t respect individual beliefs, it just means we aren’t there to debate with our patrons, and it can be uncomfortable, particularly for novice staff members, to cut off these conversations without being seemingly rude.
Let us find materials, research or articles to help you as you learn about your topic of interest or current topics, but honor the fact that we shouldn’t have to agree or disagree with you. That is straight talk – but I’ve been asked by more than one staff member lately on how to handle this situation. I’d like the public to be part of the solution and see the quandary.
Our incident rates at Sugar Grove are very low, and for this I am very grateful.
Community members that use the library are some of the most courteous I’ve seen in my career and that provides for a balanced atmosphere.
Providing ongoing training to our staff is part of the strategic plan, and though we hope we do not have to use our training we feel much more prepared for having it.
Shannon Halikias is the director of the Sugar Grove Library, a professor at College of DuPage, leads a local writing group and is an outdoors lover with two rowdy boys. She can be reached at email@example.com. Feedback on this column can be send to firstname.lastname@example.org