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Yesterday afternoon, Scott Adair, Anna Dulin and I spent an hour and a half thinking about the sorts of security situations one would rather not think about. The webinar, “A Person of Interest: Safety and Security in the Library” presented by LLAMA (the Library Leadership and Management Association) focused on getting library employees to prepare for security situations before they occur. The recording of the webinar is available here.

The webinar covered many circumstances, from nuisance patrons (ie chatty), challenging patrons (ie requesting unreasonable service or those that are odiferous), delusional or threatening patrons, etc and also covered medical emergencies and criminal situations. The first webinar leader, Nancy Relaford from UC San Diego explained that staff training for these events are critical because they are so likely to occur at some point, and that your training should include thinking through scenarios. Having a scenario to react to will give people the necessary practice to get it right, and will allow the participants to weave into their thought process any local practices that are unique to their building or situation. It will also allow them to get past the “startle response” and on to doing whatever is necessary to handle the situation in an actual emergency.

Two people from Queens Borough Public Library in NYC, Lambert Shell and Michael Daly discussed the policy and procedural training programs they’ve got in place to handle incidents, but also identified programs they have in place to minimize the incidents from happening. They have created social spaces to engage teens and tweens who might otherwise be a group prone to causing trouble. They have also engaged help from teachers, counselors, police, social workers and parents in the community keeping lines of communication open and utilizing all of the expertise in the area to help solve any problems.
Handouts are also available here. The webinar was interesting and sensitized me to the need to have some dialog about how we might handle such situations in ZSR. Living as we do in this beautiful academic setting, it’s easy to be lulled into complacency. This webinar along with the presentations offered by the CARE team will help us to begin the process of setting down guidelines that will be useful in such situations when the “persons of interest” come into our library.