Can You See Me Blushing This Morning?

Guess what? I’m a bit embarrassed. Why is that? well, I was wrong about a couple of things that my library does. And I HATE being wrong. Especially in such a public forum. But – I can admit when I goofed up, so here goes.

Here are the facts about Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (as they apparently stand this fine Sunday morning, pointed out to me by one of my colleagues):

  • nametags – managers use full names, other staff not so much
  • names on the website – everyone uses their real name and has a pic by it – but most staff are only using their first names.
  • The Digital Branch Manger – is saying “oh dang oh dang oh dang oh dang” right now. A lot.

So – I think I’ll go make a couple small edits to my last three posts, to correct those bits of wrong info. And maybe pay a bit more attention to nametags for the next couple of weeks.

Let the public flogging commence…

  • Michael Sauers

    The beatings will continue until morale improves!

  • davidleeking

    Ha! That comment I appreciate :-)

  • ananka

    Should you really be editing your other posts? Let them stand with a note that you have updated here.

  • Michael Sauers

    I totally agree with this. Don’t edit, update.

  • davidleeking

    Yeah – my editing consisted of crossing out some words (but leaving them). And adding a clearly marked update or two. Thankfully, there really wasn’t much wrong info there (in terms of the library, anyway).


  • Lynn Bertino

    Throughout all of these posts, I’ve wondered how would your library management react if one of your staffers were stalked. Would that staff person feel comfortable with reporting stalking or inappropriate behavior from patrons to your management? Or would library policy actually deter staff from reporting the issue? Most importantly, is your management doing things that would let staff know that they will be backed up, supported and protected if they ever experience this.

    I was stalked. I was stalked via email, and mail. My stalker knew where I lived. He knew my schedule. My stalker was a library patron that visited the library every day, 7 days a week. Everyone saw him as a sweet guy who was a little slow. He got my email address from the business cards we were told we had to make available to the public. He got my address from ReferenceUSA.

    The first time he stepped over the line and sent me flowers, I was chastised by some managers for overreacting. The branch manager did talk with him and told him he had stepped over the line, but did not ban him from the library.

    Years went by and the stalker continued to come to the library. While he avoided making any contact with me, he continued to visit almost every day of the week. He was quiet and subdued and therefore not considered a problem patron. I didn’t even realize he was still there.

    Then I started receiving things in the mail. “Applications” to become an “escort,” subscriptions to sex catalogs, disturbing pamphlets. Then I started getting emails for parenting websites and catalogs. I was getting signed up for some very weird parenting newsletters.

    When I left public service for a library IT job, the emails got worse. I started getting notes about how he wanted to rape me and he wanted me to have his baby.

    Through this, the library management was only marginally supportive. I contacted the County attorney, HR, and Sheriffs department. Since I was now in IT, I used my connections with the County IT to trace the emails. That’s how I finally identified the patron, connected all of the mailings with the emailings, and got him arrested and banned from the library.

    Much has changed in my library system since these events took place. We have a new director and assistant director and I doubt they would be as complacent as the former management was.

    So, I read your library system’s policies, and my first reaction is that they seem unresponsive to your staff’s needs. Now I realize that may not be case in practice. I sincerely hope that is not the case.

    I hope the need to be open and transparent with the public would not override a staff member’s need for security and safety in the workplace. I hope that should any of your staff ever be threaten at work, that they would be fully supported by management. I hope that your management is going out of its way to convey that to library staff.

    Otherwise, I fear that they would feel as I did not so many years ago. Alone, frightened, having to fight the legal battles mostly on my own, and little to no protection offered by the library management.

  • sharon

    A year ago I started working full-time at a small public library in a small town (<6,000) where everyone knows everyone–or thinks they do–and where some families have lived for generations. I still get uncomfortable when unknown (to me) callers ask for a staff member's phone number because they've "lost" it, or when I hear staff member #1 tell caller that staff member #2 is away on vacation. Sure, she knows who the caller is, but she doesn't know who may be right outside the staff room door listening to the whole conversation.

    If staff members get to know patrons so well that they can recommend books for them without being asked, that's great. If staff members and patrons become personal friends and exchange last names, phone numbers, names of spouses and children, and get together for holidays, that's great, too. But it shouldn't be mandatory for front line staff.

  • JS

    Hahaha! Kudos to you for admitting this to us, David! Cheers!

  • Andy Woodworth

    Owing up to mistakes usurps the need to flog. 😀