Your library is a safe space in your local community. With a multitude of regular guests each day and the occasional out of-towner coming through your doors, you’re required to keep people of all backgrounds equipped with great books, learning opportunities and more.
However, with great resources comes great responsibility. It takes work to keep your library resources and patrons feeling safe around the clock. Here are some common problems that plague your library and how you should react when trouble is afoot.
Your library’s rules and regulations are put in place primarily to ensure that everyone has a positive and safe experience at the library. And even though we follow library rules and regulations to the T, this might not be the case for everyone.
Make sure you have clear protocols in place when you notice a patron’s safety is endangered like notifying a specific staff member or security officer. Whether that be preparing for a sudden medical emergency, helping out a parent who can’t locate her child or evacuating in case of a fire, your library should always be braced for the unexpected.
Another distinct factor of patron safety is the neighborhood your library is in. While you have no control over the physicality of your library, it is very possible that outside factors could influence patron safety. This may seem completely out of your control. However, as you know very well, librarians wear a lot of hats - and sometimes an acting member of law enforcement is one of them. To keep yourself and your patrons safe, having proper processes in place that outlines exactly who to notify in an emergency and disciplinary procedures is essential.
Yes, some patrons attempt to steal resources from your library - even those that are available for check out. Suspend your disbelief for a second. Resource theft is a real problem that impacts libraries across the country. And when rare books, original manuscripts and other high-value works are at risk, this could turn from a mere nuisance to a cost-draining issue that affects your library’s bottom line. (Also, it’s just plain uncool to steal from the library!)
You can’t let these rogue patrons ruin it for everyone. Instead of submitting to this problem, put some procedures in place to keep your resources safe. Place spinal sensors into your resources and invest in either an electromagnetic or radio frequency detection system. These security systems act similarly to security sensors in clothing stores and sound the alarm when a patron walks through your security system without checking out his library resource.
While patrons simply may have forgotten to go through check out, those who did intend to steal should be disciplined (whether through a warning or a suspension). Remember, stealing resources - even if they could be available for free - is a crime. Don’t hesitate to get your onsite security officer involved or call the police if you start to notice a trend.
Keeping your patrons and resources safe should be your top priority at your library. With these tips in mind, you will be much better prepared to keep your library in pristine condition for years to come. Download What a Modern Public Library Looks Like Today for even more insight on what your library should strive for in your community.