As the winter begins to bite more people may visit a public library to seek respite from the outside elements. Whilst we like to think of the traditional view of libraries as tranquil havens offering a safe and peaceful environment the reality can be quite different.
Professional reading this month looks at three short articles concerning safety within a library environment. If nothing else they serve as a timely reminder that vigilance in considering personal safety should always be a priority.
Nancy McCormick highlights a number of risk factors present in public library work that make staff amongst the highest at risk of workplace violence. Whilst writing about the Canadian context, these risk factors seem to transcend international boundaries and would seem to fit with our experiences. I particularly enjoyed the comment McCormick makes regarding library school preparing aspiring librarians to save books from a flood but not preparing them to deal with aggressive patrons or prepare a security audit.
Eliza Topper talks of the need for safety and security policies and procedures backed up by staff training programmes to ensure staff are equipped to deal with difficult situations.
The final article, as reported by the fine British tabloid, News of the World, reminds us that things have yet to get so bad that we need to employ bouncers to keep people from entering the library.