Saturday, March 29, 2008

Too Many Teens: Blessing or Burden?

Facilitated by Kent Johnson and Susan Spicer, Salt Lake County Library's Kearns Branch

First, find an ally, a co-worker who thinks like you for support.

Raise cultural awareness.

Clarify library use policy. Talk to kids. Distribute the use policy. Created a paired-down version. Essentially, Be respectful, no swearing, no fighting.

Create a plan
At Kearns Branch, every teen that comes into the library must go through a 10-minute Powerpoint presentation on the use policy. Explain the Trespass policy. They must go through this training AND get a sticker on their library card proving that they've taken the training BEFORE they are allowed to use internet PCs for the first time.

An off-duty sheriff's officer is paid by the library and is present from 2-6pm daily. If possible, work with the officers assigned to your local high schools. They already know the students and how to work with them.

Kearns' Teen staff focused on Behavior until it was under control, before considering any program planning.

Staff went to elementary schools and sent letters home with sixth graders (most letters made it home) explaining behavior expectations in the nearby Kearns branch for students, as well as the library and parental responsibilities.

***Get a copy of the local Middle and High school yearbooks. Photocopy pages; learn and use the names of your teens.***

At Kearns, all staff roam during peak teen hours.
No staff in offices between 3 and 5pm.

There is a "zero-tolerance aggressive-behavior policy"—-even when it is two friends roughhousing.

If teens are put out of the library for an extended amount of time, they must return with an adult and talk to a review panel before they are allowed to reenter the library.

If teens are outside observing a fight on library property (as has happened at Kearns), the librarian said I am so disappointed in you for watching. Go in the library or go home. Since the librarian had built relationships with these teens, this statement worked for their group. Fear of disappointment worked better than threats of banning.

When enforcing policy, be consistent and never argue.
Don't get into a debate about whether, for example, a teen did or did not swear.
Instead, crouch beside a seated teen and say In the library, I really need you not to swear.


Drop your tone and say It seems like you're having a hard time, I'll have to ask you to leave. I'm going to give you 5 minutes and then you have to leave, but we can't wait to see you tomorrow.

Then, and this is important, leave the area for 5 minutes. You need to give teens a chance to say goodbye to their friends and gather their books. Lingering might only escalate the situation. Return after 5 minutes.


...if it is a noise issue in a large group and you know who is being loud, say You have 5 minutes to gather your materials and move to another table or you'll have to leave the building.

Remember, there is nothing gained by having the last word with ANY patron—adult or teen. Let it go.

Give teens the time and space to do things on their own after you've given a directive.

There are issues of brain development and chemical changes in this age group. You can see shifts in behavior—-for the better or worse--over a period of a few short months.

Remember, that developmentally, teens change quickly and they do grow up.

Take a look at some of your problem teens and at their lives.
Chances are you may be the only adult who actually talks TO them, and not AT them.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Diversity in our neighborhood libraries: table discussions

Facilitated by NYPL
Highlights from group discussions

What role can the library play in strengthening diverse cultures?

Maintain bi-lingual collections

Celebrate international holidays

Talk to leaders from individual communities about needs

Reach out to the faith communities

Recruit staff/volunteers who speak other languages

Make referrals to other agencies when appropriate

Provide a neutral space for community programming

Advocate for immigration rights and reform

How involved should the library be in promoting diverse cultures?

Programming should be driven by shifts in local demographics

Programming could be brought to you by members of the public

Provide neutral space; don't necessarily have to design programs

Collections- driven by makeup of community; they won't come in if there aren't things here for them. Also, be mindful to have infrastructure (cataloging capability) before purchasing materials, building collections and courting groups.

Present film screenings, bi-lingual storytimes by native speaking volunteers, ESL classes, cooking demonstrations, work with specific local agencies (for example, not just Asian; rather Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean)

When it is hard to find books in a particular language, try to collect periodicals.

Recruit librarians with foreign language skills

Balance space and collection with community need

Use census data (realizing that that data may be 10 years old)

Recruit Friends and Volunteers from local ethnic groups

Offer your webpage in other languages (see SPL)

Partner with refugee development center (Lansing MI library created outreach to refugee teens and now works with young adults who are from Sudan, Liberia, Afghanistan, Cuba and Somalia)

Create library videos using teens from various communities (Hennepin County created "How to use the library" videos in a variety of languages)

Host conversation clubs

Translate forms

Teen Groups should have liaisons from different ethnic groups

Work with local language schools

Create an oral history project

How does the library benefit?

Helps us achieve our mission of access to all and learning for all

Outreach to underserved communities and talking up library services

Publicity for library

Invitations to outside groups to share their culture = automatic programming

Could lead to increased budget

Library as community meeting place

Engage community in conversation

Better signage and graphics

Public awareness of smaller communities

Hire more diverse staff and increase cultural competencies

A more culturally sensitive staff

Central Library: Crowned Jewel or Tarnished Tiara?

Presented by the Directors of the Denver, Vancouver, Seattle and Cincinnati Public Libraries

Topics to consider:
Future of central libraries and neighborhood libraries
How can central libraries serve everyone?
Central libraries as research facility
The ebb and flow of subject departments
Central libraries as civic icon vs. neighborhood branch

Denver Public Library
Architect/Designer Michael Graves and CLIP
Who we are, how we live, how they use us?
Changing needs and expectations

Moved from a model of "being all things to all people at all locations" to a model based on market segmentation.

We now have a few different kinds of libraries:
Our Universal (online) library
Contemporary libraries
Learning and language libraries
Family libraries
Children's libraries
The Central library

Central library space planning: redesigned, renewed, reaffirmed
What doesn't work?

Created some new departments at Central, combined others.

Provide Roving Reference using Samsung Q1s. Provide reference help at point of entry.

Library as gathering place. Downtown Denver hosts "Fresh City Life" adult cultural programming. Library hosts events as part of that programming.

Interior design: moved from "Stacks and Rows" to Outward-facing shelves, middle aisle seating and lots of "wedding cake"-style retail displays.

Vancouver Public Library
What is reference anyway? Get out into the community.

Between February 07 and 08, Vancouver PL
Foot traffic down 10%
Circulation down 6%
Reference questions down 10%
...forced to consider another model.

A focus on Central library as neighborhood branch for residents in the surrounding community.

Tried to focus on working with specific communities like central neighborhood, the existing library community, the educational and literary community, community organizations, other levels of government and non-users.

VPL's current projects include:
Working Together
Ready to read--VPL's early literacy outreach via five children’s libraries
Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre

Central libraries should lead partnerships where appropriate AND partner with, but let other groups lead, where appropriate.

Seattle Public Library
How do we make the central library live?

The city of Seattle has seen an increase in the number of cultural opportunities, an increase in high-density housing (read: our "branch" users) and an increase in the diversity of our population.

SPL's Challenges
Keeping the central library space dynamic

Getting people here (after the initial fascination of visiting the cool new building.)

Getting them all to keep coming back

Reaching and engaging the "smart, young wifi guy"--one type of patron that staff observe who only seems to visit the library for the free wireless and for no other library program or resource.

Finding a balance between being a civic icon and being a warm, friendly branch.

SPL's focus
Cultural programming

Community engagement

Early learning

Lifelong learning (also, offering computer and other instruction at outlying branches)



SPL's Questions to consider
Icon or branch? Finding a balance.

Collection: Storehouse or audience draw? (Pulling or shifting collections between branches; focus on collection or spaces)

Staffing for the future: Librarians? Programmers? New skills taught or New jobs and job descriptions?

How do we use our space?

Whither the city? (focus on trends)

Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
The ML/21st Century project to examine the use of Central library.

Cinci's Issues--500,000 square foot building, 50 year old service model, 15 departments, 6 subject areas.

Project was data-driven and not brainstormed, because it is harder to argue with usage statistics.

Cinci's data gathering
Customer survey
Usage trends
Staff input
Trends in Public Libraries
Unobtrusive observations (the most important)

Old= Fiction, Non-Fiction, Films
New= Popular Library

Old=All departments subject focused
New= Information and Reference

Old= Young Adults
New= Teen Spot (8,000 square feet)

...also, Technology Center and Homework Central.

Handling Upset Patrons: from the irate to the insane

Presenter Warren Graham
[NOTE: I brought back a copy of Warren's book, if anyone would like to borrow it.]

4 levels of emotion
Out of Control

Patron is upset but civil.

Stop, look at them, listen.

Genuine empathy in the face of anxiety goes a long way.

I know you're upset, but we're gonna get this worked out.

Nod, tell the patron you understand.

I understand (not I agree--there's a difference)

Well now, let me make sure I've got this right... (then rephrase what you've heard)

Patron is getting out of hand, possibly yelling, slapping counter, cursing the library (not you).

Establish your credibility ASAP, but don't match their emotion.

Sir, you've asked me. Now let me explain it to you. We're gonna get this worked out.

We're gonna work this out, but I'm not going to let you yell at me.

Be careful if you are an emotional person. Don't sink to their level.

Do not tell them to calm down---instead say compose yourself.

Don't use words like rules or policy, instead say the library does not allow that.

Keep redirecting patrons back to the issue.

When dealing with patrons in this state, you may find that you have uncontrollable physical reactions like trembling hands, face is flush, butterflies in the stomach. That is your fight-or-flight instinct and it is completely natural. It does not mean that you can't handle the situation.

Out of Control
Patron is no longer cursing the library, they are cursing you.
They are communicating a threat, exhibiting aggressive movements.
They might be drunk or high.
You may have told them to leave and they say no.

If you are threatened, that is assault.
If they touch you, that is battery.
If you are threatened or touched, call police.

Many librarians have a reluctance to ban patrons. However, if you don't deny access to those who are destroying the library, then you are inadvertently denying access to other patrons who may not come to your library because you refuse to provide a safe environment.

It is important to treat everyone the same and to have established rules and guidelines.

The state that most of your patrons are in.

Now that you know the 4 levels, what do you do?

Identify which level your patron is in at the moment, then fall back on the strategies above that work 95% of the time.

You will build confidence the more you learn to identify and address each level.

Note: Make sure that your staff is not your problem.
Many times, it is the staff's inability to handle situations that escalates situations.

5 questions that you should answer

Am I passive or aggressive by nature?

Am I an emotional or logic-based person?

Am I introverted or extroverted?

Do I like people?

Do I like my job?

Homeless patrons: positive approaches

Moderated by SFPL and the Free Library of Philadelphia

SFPL has an Outreach Case Worker position on staff.
SFPL has clear rules of conduct and has tried to enforce these uniformly.

Talk to your city agencies that serve the homeless. Tell them "You're looking to help these people---they are here."

Try to partner with these agencies to provide service.

In Philadelphia, they realized that homelessness is often a symptom, not the root problem. The problem, they found, was often addiction and mental illness.

Address behaviors, not homelessness.

Mobilize library, police and social service agencies.
Work with organizations like Philly's Project Home. Work with outreach agencies.

Free Library of Philadelphia was having a problem with sex/drugs/bathing in public restrooms. They worked with an outreach group to employ recently-homeless individuals (clean and off the streets) as bathroom attendants. Attendants did light housekeeping duties in the bathroom and provided information and referrals to homeless individuals. This program has been a huge success.

Director commented that city agencies want "to ride along a winner" —funding will come. Their sponsors have been Bank of America, Starbucks, MetroBakery. They've opened an internet café, also staffed by recently-homeless individuals.

SFPL: It is important to advocate at the city level. Administrators should go to city meetings. SFPL's administrators talk to social services. They have worked with Public Works who hose down library sidewalks everyday (They were having nightly issues with trash and human waste on sidewalks). Health care workers do sweeps of the library and offer assistance. Mental health department does outreach in the library two hours per day.

Importance of clear code of conduct and behaviors.
Equal enforcement among all staff.
Create a consequences list-- If you do this, then this will happen to you --penalties for 1st, 2nd and 3rd infractions. Clear these with your library board and city attorney.

SFPL established a Homeless Outreach Team. (HOT workers, or "the Hotties") Find an agency who can use your site as a location. The HOT team is not employed by the library; however, they use library space.

They also work with a library team called the Change agents, a group of SFPL staff who were sympathetic to homeless.

Remember not to profile individuals. It is better to give your outreach staff jackets or something to designate them. This group can also design training for your staff (Mental Health 101 or Drug Abuse 101).

Free Library of Philadelphia: There was a citywide task force on homelessness. Director attended the meetings of that group. They primarily work with homeless. The director commented that he originally saw the homeless as the library's "problem." Working with the task force changed the way he thought and the task force found ways that the library could help this population that was within the library's mission.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mobile Reference workshop

Hosted by OCLS

OCLS is in Mobile Gamma – a concept stolen from Flickr meaning perpetual improvement.

Model = greet and walk with (Going on a trip? Take patron to DVDs and travel books.)

Customer service scores improved 20% as measured by a survey tool on website and in library.

Initially trained a team of 10 people to roam. Now, entire main library reference staff engaged in roaming. 55 staff (11 MLS). Staff rotate between a telephone reference department and roaming hours.

Get continual staff feedback on service.
Staff are scheduled for 2 hours of roaming at a time.
Follow a star pattern for roaming; more movement through stacks and back to a central staff point.

Installed 11 phones throughout the building (like at Target) for patrons to summon help.

Staff wear ID's and Vocera badges.

Do not have to "ask" every patron if they need help; just make eye contact and nod.

Interactions (stats) went up 25%.

Started with PDAs, then moved to end-panel OPACs.

There is a staff computer at one service point per floor (where a print station is), but this service point is not "staffed"---roaming staff rotated around this point and use it when necessary.

Security matters: By hitting dark corners more often, the number of security incidents decreased. However, they do have an off-duty police officer most hours and they trespass individuals frequently.

On the 4th floor, they retain a reference desk (for now), but have moved from that model on all other floors.

There is also a "Community Resources Center" where ALL internet PCs are. Librarians do not have to handle that.

[At this point, Howard County librarians in the audience shared the following. At one branch, they have moved to a call center model. Staffed by Info and Circulation staff. No incoming phone calls on the floor---Redeploy staff in the age of Google---now two staff are in the call center instead of having 4 or 5 staff throughout building on phones.

Circulation has increased.

Crosstraining both Circulation and Information Services staff. Staff camaraderie has increased.

Some librarians have said that they will never buy into this model, but now it is tied to their reviews.

How did you market it to patrons? We didn't do formal marketing. In the weeks leading up to the change, we just let people know by word of mouth as we were assisting them.

It requires more flexible scheduling. [end Howard County comments]

[resume OCLS presenters]

They recommend Gaylord's Mobile Service Desk.

Mentioned that Denver PL, now allows for 1-hour appointments with librarians for research-intensive questions.

In a way, many small branches at public libraries nationwide are functioning on a mobile model; it is only new for main libraries.

OCLS used to schedule for 5 service desks; under mobile ref, they now only have 3 service points. They recommend removing staff phones away from service desks, if moving to a mobile model. Funnel all calls to a behind-the-scenes telephone reference area.

What I really meant was... (Improving Communication)

Facilitated by Face2Face

Concentrate on active listening

We often jump to conclusions and leap to defense. If someone touches your hot button, you immediately shut down and you aren't listening anymore.

Note non-verbal cues

Perceptual errors
1. Judge ourselves more charitably than we judge others.

2. Influenced by what is most obvious.

3. Cling to first impressions.

4. Tend to think people are just like us.

5. Favor negative impressions over positive.

Filters: We all have them. Our set of experiences. We process all information through these filters. We need to be aware of them.

Be clear when speaking.

Ask questions and stop trying to read minds.

Say exactly what you mean.

When you're having a hard time expressing yourself, try using the following statement:

I feel ______ when you (said or did) _______, because I think you ________.

Avoid shortcuts like acronyms or jargon.

Avoid assumptions.

3 key phrases for clarity

-Help me to understand... (This is a non-threatening diffuser.)

-What I heard you say was... (Clarification)

-What I really meant was...

Communication styles

Driver: achieving, decisive, independent, efficient, intense, deliberate

Analytical: logical, serious, factual, well-organized, reserved, linear

Amiable: supportive, friendly, relaxed, patient, cooperative

Expressive: lively, outgoing, enthusiastic, persuasive, humorous, gregarious

Ideally, your team is made up of people who reflect each of these styles.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bridging the Divide: Civic Engagement and Democracy in practice

People are alienated from politics because of a lack of public space for them to engage in discussions. People are remarkably isolated in such an age of diversity.

Libraries' role = provide a safe, neutral place for issues discussions.
Libraries can bridge this divide.

How can we engage people?
Reclaim democracy?
Allow people to reconnect?
Bring people back to the public square?

Nancy Kranich’s 7 functions of a library
1. Library as civic space.

2. Library as public forum, place for dialogue and exchange of ideas.

3. Library as civic information centers. (Not passive, active. Engage.)

4. Library as provider of community-wide, issues-focused reading clubs.

5. Library as partner in public service. (Not competitive with other organizations.)

6. Library as enabler of civic literacy.

7. Library as public advocate. (Not just access to info, but engagement with people.)

No need for libraries to do this alone. There are likely local organizations who want to partner or are already doing some of these things.

Libraries should be moving from access to engagement.

Example: Johnson County Public Library’s (Kansas City, KS) Community Issues Forums

What surprised, delighted or inspired you from what has been discussed thus far?
What might be challenges or opportunities for libraries to do this in practice?

Highlights from Table discussion
1. Moving from access to engagement

2. How diverse are our libraries really? Are the people who would be interested in Community Issues Forums be people we already reach?

3. How do you avoid debates devolving to extremes on either side?

4. Will some administrators perceive this as courting unnecessary controversy?

5. Libraries can provide the facts. We have many strong views on taxes, gov’t, etc, but very few facts to back up fervent views. (Example: Can you quote how big the total county budget really is?)

6. One system employs a "Community Engagement Librarian"— bring people in to talk about things in a different way; teach how to disagree and be civil; skills that communities need to rediscover and cultivate.

7. Establish the library as place.

8. World Café idea, great discussions forums, community reads

9. Community blog—how do you ensure civil discourse and not have it devolve into contention?

10. In community debates, we used to worry about the library being at the table. By hosting forums, libraries can set the table.

11. The goal should be providing neutral information from a variety of perspectives on local issues.

National Issues Forum model for talking to your community, building issues maps, creating discussion guides, etc.

In Virginia Beach, Betsy McBride's project to discuss proposed zoning changes:
-Present balanced information

-Created an 8 librarian research team (met every Monday for 2 years), ran library forums

–City manager learned librarians didn't just shelve

-City manager now sees librarians as problem-solvers

-Built citizens into the process of bureaucracy and civic issues

-Initially they received flak from the Chamber and the commissioners who wondered what is the library trying to do and what story is the library trying to tell; They saw their programming monies cut (they believe) because the county did not initially see this as a role for the library.

-They decided to use grant/gift fund monies, rather than operating monies for this project, but continued to move forward because they understood the benefit of the forums.

-Being responsive to community in times of limited staff and budget

-Introduction to each discussion—The reason we’re doing this is because…

-When you start you aren't sure of the outcome, but you have to trust the process.

-We have to practice the habits of Democracy.

What to do if Admin isn’t convinced?
-Lobby, report info to the director.

-Explain why we need to do this, we need to partner with these 3 groups because…

-Politicians are starting to realize the need for citizen input; libraries are poised to help, to bring people to our safe place.

Kranich hosts at State College, PA. Their newspaper is a partner, the library is the location and patrons see that national/global issues apply locally.

More notes on National Issues forum model (see handouts)
-You are not discussing academic approaches, rather real-world public views.

-True authentic dialogue = deliberative forum

-Help public weigh-in, make informed approaches and decisions

-Goal = understanding and collective action

-Goal = listen to those who don't agree with us

-Goal = weigh pros and cons, come to common ground

-Discussions often start by centering on two or three viewpoints; group discussions will often result in building a new approach which draws from each viewpoint.

1. Moderator remains neutral.

2. Everyone encouraged to participate.

3. No one or two individuals dominate.

4. Deliberation will focus on approaches.

5. All major approaches are considered.

6. An atmosphere is maintained for deliberation and examination of trade-offs among

7. We listen to each other, seek common ground and understanding.

After the discussion, what now? Steer people to advocacy groups representing the variety of viewpoints.

ALA has established a membership initiative group on this topic.

National Issues Forum = public policy training.

Upcoming conference:
National Coalition for Discussion and Deliberation Austin, TX Oct 3-5