library regulars

July 15, 2008 at 3:26 pm (blogging, library, mpow) ()

I noticed in my previous Library Day in the Life post that I referenced several of our regular patrons.  Now, don’t get me wrong – we have great patrons who come in regularly.  Wonderful people who are delightful and engaging.  They enjoy using the library’s services and we love to help them.

But many of our regular patrons are “difficult”, or just plain crazy.  Each has their own unique brand of crazy, or the specific things they do that drive us nuts.  I sympathize with mentally ill people and many of these people are just being themselves.  But it can make a trying day worse.  And many of these people take advantage of the situation and berate us as is their imagined right, since they are Taxpayers.

The abuse we, as public service representatives, endure can be hard to take.  I relaize this situation is not limited to libraries, but that doesn’t make it any easier when someone is screaming or cursing at you.

For example, our library is dealing with upcoming budget cuts which are quite severe.  Popular services have been cut or altered, and people are understandably upset.  But when airing these feelings on our library blog, many of them have pulled out all the stops — they are demanding, condescending, and downright rude.  The online nature of the conversation removes any civility they might have in person or on the phone.  I do understand their frustration with the changes.  But as the blog administrator, it can be hard to not feel personally attacked.

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4 Comments

  1. Lori Reed said,

    That’s really interesting. You know I just realized I can’t say publicly what I want to say so I’m emailing you…

  2. Ian said,

    Here’s how to not feel personally attacked.

    Rude patron:
    “Rant rant rant blah blah blah you’re so stupid.”

    You:
    “Pshaw.”

    See? It’s easy!

  3. Badda Being said,

    I feel your pain. The problem, of course, is that we have too much respect for our patrons. We view them as responsible agents. We hold them accountable for their lapses of basic decency because we believe they are capable on average of living up to a higher standard. The solution: be more cynical. Patrons are cattle. That’s what I learned from a day-long customer service workshop by Infopeople, even if they tried to conceal that basic fact with smiley rhetoric and by appealing to a naïve concept of our own personal freedom and inflating it to parodic proportions. The constant refrain throughout that workshop was that some things are beyond our control, but what is always within our control is how we react to those things. That is pure Stoicism. But it also contains an implied discrediting of the self-control of others.

  4. leah said,

    Wow. They are berating you on the blog?? That’s rough. It would be really hard for me to not “accidentally” hit the delete comment link. And you are totally right, patrons are out in full difficult force this summer. I blame the heat. Haven’t you ever heard that old saying that when ice cream sales go up so does crime? I tend to think that when ice creams sales go up, problem patrons hang out in the air conditioned libraries.

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