I should state right up front that I know next to nothing about stalking or stalkers – never had it happen to me, never really thought much about it. But I said I’d write about it, so I am.
And I do know this: some librarians are really, really worried that putting themselves â€œout thereâ€ by listing their full names and sharing a picture of themselves on a library website, or even by including their full name on a name badge, will somehow point them out as victims-in-waiting. You told me so.
Hereâ€™s an example of that worry, from Nathan, who left a comment on my post about anonymity. Nathan says: “I won’t be pushing for them to have last names, because I know it won’t be accepted and it shouldn’t be. Stalking isn’t a ‘worst-case scenario’ here; it’s an everyday concern. We have a fairly large population of homeless people & mental patients in the city, & multiple stalking or harassment events each year.”
So – the issue is this: some librarians think that by giving out their last names, theyâ€™ll be set upon by stalkers. I certainly hear the concern, but before you get all up in my grill about this, letâ€™s take a peek at some statistics, from Stalking Victimization in the United States – a national survey done in 2006.
What are the facts associated with stalking?
- 14 in every 1000 people were victims of stalking – 3.4 million in 2006.
- People who are divorced or separated are at the highest risk (34 out of 1000).
- 3 out of 4 people already knew their stalker (i.e., it was a friend, acquaintance, ex-spouse or ex-boy/girlfriend – 30% were known intimate partners, 45% were acquaintances. Under 10% were strangers).
- women age 34 and younger are the most at-risk group
So, perhaps a little perspective is needed on this whole stalking thing. Again, Iâ€™m certain that itâ€™s a scary thing when it happens, and I’m really not trying to make light of the issue. Iâ€™ve known two threeÂ people who have experienced it, and yep – freaked both of them out.
But – statistically speaking, stalkers arenâ€™t going to the web to get your last name. Theyâ€™re not eying your name badge in hopes of catching that last name either â€¦ because your stalker already knows who you are (creepy though that sounds).
So sure, stalking is a nasty problem. Sure, itâ€™s probably not a good thing to publish your home address or cell phone number for the masses to find. Here’s a great resource for figuring out how to remove some of your personal information from public view.
But – most librarians simply don’t fit into the “most likely to be stalked” category. I’m not a female younger than 35. No one in my department is either. And librarians in general? Look around ALA Midwinter in a few weeks … again, not trying to come off as flippant (though some of you will no doubt suggest that I am) … most of us simply don’t fit that profile.
[edit – yep. This was a bad argument]
So – posting your last name on a library website or on a name badge? We ask much more than that of our patrons (first and last names, addresses, home phone numbers, proof of residence, etc). Yes, some of you have pointed out that waitresses, clerks, etc in other businesses don’t do this. Do you really want to compare our profession to part-time sales associate jobs?
I think not.