MELIBS-L Archives

Maine Libraries Discussion List

MELIBS-L@LISTS.MAINE.EDU

Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Condense Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Sender:
Maine Libraries Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Thu, 1 Sep 2022 11:12:35 -0400
Reply-To:
Andrea DeBiase <[log in to unmask]>
Message-ID:
Content-Transfer-Encoding:
8bit
Subject:
From:
Andrea DeBiase <[log in to unmask]>
Content-Type:
text/plain; charset=UTF-8; format=flowed
In-Reply-To:
MIME-Version:
1.0
Comments:
To: James Rathbun <[log in to unmask]>
Parts/Attachments:
text/plain (335 lines)
The thing is, unfortunately, some do have to be told. Sad but true. I 
have a little sign parents can read with their children that just says, 
"We appreciate your inside voices and walking feet inside the library." 
It really amazes me that more parents don't get it and DO sit back ( and 
not always in the children's area) and ignore screaming and throwing 
stuff around...we have puppets...

The advice I was given is that we should put details in a policy in case 
someone questions it. I don't see that happening but...I would love to 
see other policies and tone ours down.

On 8/31/2022 4:27 PM, James Rathbun wrote:
> Oh, I know. But there's a semicolon. :)
>
> I just take mild, eye-rolling offense to instruction like that. It's a
> library, right? I know my kid can't run around screaming. Until they do and
> I sit there with my feet propped up letting it happen, I really don't need
> to be told this. Stuff like this, and codes of conduct in general, just rub
> me the wrong way. Do I need to know that 9 is the age at which my child can
> be unattended? Yes. Do I need to be told to make sure they behave like a
> human before they've behaved otherwise? I don't think I do.
>
> And again, just because I didn't restate this in my initial post, none of
> this is meant as a shot at Carrabassett or Andrea in any way whatsoever.
> This all just struck me as a particularly good example of things I would
> never put in a policy and her initial question, of how in the world do I
> have this conversation I don't want to have, drew attention to why this
> kind of stuff shouldn't be in a document you're obligated to enforce.
>
> James
>
>
> On Wed, Aug 31, 2022 at 4:13 PM Jason Fenimore <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> Regarding,
>>
>> * "Enjoy the library with your child; please remind them to use inside
>> voices and walking feet. Children 9 and under must be with an adult or
>> caregiver 14 years of age or older"
>>
>> James,
>>
>> I think you're looking at that with tired eyes.
>> It's not saying you are welcome to enjoy the library with your child
>> Period.
>> It is just easing into the conversation the idea that if you are a parent
>> with
>> little ones please teach them the ways of the library.
>> Sometimes this does have to be written out.
>>
>>
>> Jason Fenimore
>> Reference Librarian
>> Louis B. Goodall Memorial Library
>> 952 Main St.
>> Sanford, ME  04073
>> https://tinyurl.com/ujdwkk49
>>
>>
>> On 8/31/2022 3:17 PM, James Rathbun wrote:
>>> I feel like a kid in a candy store. I've been asked to post a private
>> rant
>>> to the list! Andrea was kind enough to send me a copy of their Customer
>>> Behavior Policy which, with the phrasing of that title alone, was going
>> to
>>> elicit some opinions. I told her what I thought about it and she thought
>>> everyone else might like to hear it, too! I had previously held back out
>> of
>>> fear that my old reputation as a man who rants wildly on a public
>> listserv
>>> would precede me but here we are.
>>>
>>> I'm paraphrasing from a full conversation but this will nevertheless be
>>> long. It also starts a number of sentences with the word "And" while
>>> simultaneously waffling back and forth between using they, you, we, and
>> I.
>>> I'm aware of this. I just didn't feel like fixing it.
>>>
>>> Hopefully it's worth a read. Some of what I say below feels like I'm
>> coming
>>> out swinging but this was entirely meant, and received, as friendly,
>>> constructive criticism. I fully understand many of you may have similar
>>> policies and I don't want to presume to tell you what you should or
>>> shouldn't do at your library. This is just the way I see it. Also, all of
>>> this presupposes that you're in a public library where patrons have more
>>> rights than they might in a more private space.
>>>
>>> To begin, the policy in question:
>>>
>>> =====================
>>> Carrabassett Valley Public Library
>>> Customer Behavior Policy
>>>
>>> We at the Carrabassett Valley Public Library value our customers and
>> strive
>>> to treat them with courtesy and respect.  We hope you find the library a
>>> comfortable and welcoming place. Please be considerate of the rights of
>>> others as you use this community facility.
>>>
>>> You are welcome to…
>>> * Speak in low conversational tones; you may use cell phones for calls in
>>> the lobby or Begin Room.
>>> * Use our materials gently. Take them home to enjoy by registering as a
>>> library member.
>>> * Consume drinks. Beverages must be covered; snacks can be enjoyed in the
>>> lobby.
>>> * Text using a cell phone, but please silence your devices or set to
>>> vibrate.
>>> * Use library computers following the Internet Use Policy.
>>> * Ask the library staff if you have any questions or need any assistance.
>>> * Enjoy the library with your child; please remind them to use inside
>>> voices and walking feet. Children 9 and under must be with an adult or
>>> caregiver 14 years of age or older.
>>>
>>> The Carrabassett Valley Public Library Board of Directors has established
>>> Rules of Conduct so that library users and staff have a clean, pleasant
>> and
>>> safe environment. We need your cooperation to reach this goal.
>>>
>>> While in the library, or on library property, the following is
>> prohibited:
>>> * Engaging in any activity prohibited by law.
>>> * Carrying firearms and/or dangerous weapons of any type (except by law
>>> enforcement officers).
>>> * Disruptive or unsafe behavior including any conduct that interferes
>> with
>>> the use of the library by others or with the functioning of the library
>>> staff.
>>> * Possess, sell, distribute, consume tobacco or vaping products, or be
>>> under the influence of or any alcoholic beverage, marijuana or controlled
>>> substance of any kind.
>>> * Use of loud, abusive, threatening or insulting language.
>>> * Use of obscene or pornographic Internet sites.
>>> * Sexual harassment or misconduct.
>>> * Activities that may result in damage to library property.
>>> * Sleeping, smoking and offensive odors such as perfume, bodily
>> hygiene,etc.
>>> * Inappropriate clothing (e.g. absence of shirt or shoes)
>>> * Animals, except for service animals.
>>> * Petitioning, soliciting or selling merchandise.
>>>
>>> The Carrabassett Valley Public Library reserves the right to prohibit
>>> persons who do not abide by the library’s expectations from using its
>>> facilities and premises. Library personnel may ask persons who are
>>> exhibiting inappropriate behavior to modify their behavior. Noncompliance
>>> may result in the individual being banned from the library premises or in
>>> arrest and prosecution.
>>> =====================
>>>
>>> So, there's a lot of standard stuff in there; no porn, no weapons, no
>>> abusive or illegal activity, no selling merch. There's also a lot of
>>> language that, in my mind, is tough to enforce and impossible to defend
>> if
>>> someone pushed back when you did enforce it. And there's a lot of NOs to
>> be
>>> hit with as soon as you get your card, right? Along with some
>> questionable
>>> YESs. Like "You are welcome to... enjoy the library with your child."
>> That
>>> got a sarcastic, "Oh, can I really? How kind!" I know where they're going
>>> with it but, also, of course I can enjoy the library with my child. I
>> don't
>>> think that needs to be said. To say it feels somehow condescending.
>>>
>>> We don't have anything resembling a Code of Conduct policy at my library
>>> but we used to have a ton of signage like this and I've done my best to
>>> eliminate it. It's just an unwelcoming place to start from, I think. In
>> my
>>> mind, if you've crossed a line I'll tell you as much and if it really
>>> crosses the line, I'll call the cops and they can tell you for me. I've
>>> never felt that having a document to point at will help that conversation
>>> any. Our lack of one has never once caused us any trouble.
>>>
>>> Most of the prohibited stuff in the above policy goes without saying. You
>>> don't need to tell someone they can't do anything illegal, right? That
>>> truly does go without saying. And am I really not allowed to damage
>> library
>>> property? Who knew?! To say these things implies that you think it needs
>> to
>>> be said, that your patrons will definitely do something illegal or
>>> purposefully destructive unless you tell them not to. Who wants to be
>>> treated like that? Our card agreement says you'll have to pay for
>> anything
>>> you lose or destroy and your account will be frozen until you do so, just
>>> so you know what the consequences of your actions will be. It doesn't say
>>> tsk, tsk, you shouldn't do that in the first place. They know this
>> already.
>>> The vast majority of that section just feels like, why are you even
>> stating
>>> this? Did you have people who didn't realize they couldn't deal drugs
>> while
>>> brandishing weapons, sexually harrassing folks and screaming curse words
>> at
>>> the top of their lungs in the library? And once they read this policy,
>>> you're telling me that behavior changed? I think you're way better served
>>> by stopping at the start, saying:
>>> "We at the Carrabassett Valley Public Library value our customers and
>>> strive to treat them with courtesy and respect.  We hope you find the
>>> library a comfortable and welcoming place. Please be considerate of the
>>> rights of others as you use this community facility."
>>> I mean, that covers it all, right? I feel welcome. And then if you don't
>>> want them drinking soda while using the computers, fair enough. Put that
>> on
>>> a sign in the computer section or in your rules of use for the computers
>> or
>>> whatever. Just cover it where it needs to be covered and that way you'll
>>> only cover what needs to be covered.
>>>
>>> We do have a Child Safety policy, multiple Internet Use and Safety
>>> policies, and an Animal policy, all of which is covered in Andrea's
>>> document but somehow feels better separated out from a Code of Conduct
>> into
>>> individual, specific policies. If I'm at the library to use the internet,
>>> it would be helpful to know what I can and can't do. If I'm there to pick
>>> up a book, do I need to first be told that I can't view online
>> pornography
>>> or engage in illegal downloads? I don't feel like I do.
>>>
>>> To call attention to a few particularly problematic lines... being "under
>>> the influence" is prohibited. Now, if they're behaving poorly or engaging
>>> in illegal activity, well, that's already covered with no abusive,
>>> disruptive, or illegal activity, right? And, as I said before, even that
>>> goes without saying. Otherwise, who is determining whether or not a
>> patron
>>> is under the influence and how are they making that determination? Is
>> there
>>> a breathalyzer at the door? Are you urine testing? If I can smell alcohol
>>> on a patron's breath but they're acting normally and not causing any
>>> problems, what have they done wrong and in what way is it my business? It
>>> is legal to drink alcohol off my premises, after all, and simply because
>> I
>>> can smell it doesn't mean they've had too much. However, they are by
>>> definition under the influence. I just feel like that's such a dangerous
>>> conversation to have with someone. I can't imagine asking a patron
>> whether
>>> or not they were under the influence, let alone telling them they'd have
>> to
>>> leave because I decided they were, based on no objective information
>>> whatsoever. If they're behaving badly they're behaving badly. The reasons
>>> for that bad behavior aren't particularly relevant. That's something that
>>> should only come into play if they're causing so much trouble the police
>>> show up and at that point, it's for the police to test them appropriately
>>> and decide what the best course of action is.
>>>
>>> Ditto the bodily hygiene, perfume, etc. part of this. I'm going to
>>> disregard how that line in its entirety lumps enough unrelated things
>>> together so as to say "no homeless people". We can all see that. Moving
>> on
>>> to the smell thing in particular, I don't know this patron of theirs but
>> if
>>> I were ever asked to leave a public building because someone didn't like
>>> how I smelled, I would absolutely make that place wish they hadn't. It's
>>> too arbitrary. "What smell is it that offends your delicate
>> sensibilities?
>>> Is it my deodorant or my body odor? Is it the residual shampoo in my
>>> freshly washed hair or the smell of my wood stove that you don't like? Is
>>> it my breath? It's my breath, isn't it. I did just eat an egg salad
>>> sandwich. But that said, at what point is my smell offensive? Since when
>> is
>>> it not my right to smell how I smell?" It's just not a conversation I
>> would
>>> ever consider having with someone and that's not because we've never had
>> a
>>> regular patron who smelled, strongly, of any number of unpleasant things.
>>> There's no law that says you have to bathe with such frequency that you
>>> pass some kind of sniff test.
>>> (Full disclosure, I'm speaking from what could be viewed as a
>> hypocritical
>>> space. We do have a small sign on our window and at the main desk stating
>>> that we are a "Fragrance Free Library" and encouraging patrons not to
>> wear
>>> strong fragrances. This is something I was encouraged to post by HR years
>>> ago due to some issues best kept confidential. It is not, in my opinion,
>> in
>>> any way enforceable, nor is it policy, nor would I ever consider
>> enforcing
>>> it, nor do I particularly want to continue to keep those signs up. They
>> are
>>> a bit of a sore point I have yet to reexamine but no one at my library
>> will
>>> ever be confronted about how they smell, regardless of what that signage
>>> implies.)
>>>
>>> Loud, abusive, threatening and insulting language. Okay, but insulting?
>>> Insulting to whom? I asked my Deputy Director if she'd be insulted if I
>>> called her "maam". She would. But would we kick someone out for it? We
>>> would not. ;)
>>>
>>> Finally, inappropriate clothing? That's incredibly vague. I think you can
>>> say no shirt, no shoes, no service. Can you say inappropriate? By whose
>>> standard? Is it okay to show my ankles? My knee? Must I cover my head? Is
>>> it my rainbow button that offends? My Blue Lives Matter hat? I mean, how
>>> many times have you seen an article about exactly this sort of thing
>>> happening on an airplane? It never ends well for the airline and they're
>>> not even a public space. I have no desire to find myself or my library
>>> being dragged on Twitter.
>>>
>>> Carrabassett has another policy, Library Rules, on their website. I
>> didn't
>>> have any problems with that except that they feel a little old-school
>>> confrontational, a little too much bold print. It's a document that
>> manages
>>> to scream "be quiet" but was much more like what I'd expect. It sets up
>> the
>>> "librarians will shush you at every turn" sort of atmosphere but that's
>>> fine if that's what you're going for. We just don't do that at my
>> library.
>>> All of this was meant to say, I wouldn't want a policy like this and if I
>>> had one I would do my best to ignore it, both because I fundamentally
>> don't
>>> agree with it and because I think enforcing it could cause far more
>> serious
>>> problems than it would solve. However, it's not to pass judgement or say
>>> any of us have full control over our policies. If my Board ever proposed
>>> such a thing, I would say what I said above. I've done so before and I
>>> think it's the kind of thing we shouldn't shy away from doing. You don't
>>> want to get into a shouting match or be any more unpleasant than I've
>> been
>>> here but telling the higher-ups why something is a bad idea has, in my
>>> experience, always been a constructive conversation that churned out a
>>> better policy.
>>>
>>> James
>>>
>
-- 
Andrea DeBiase
Library Director
Carrabassett Valley Public Library
3209 Carrabassett Dr #3
Carrabassett Valley   ME  04947
PHONE: 207-237-3535

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. ~Jorge Luis Borges

ATOM RSS1 RSS2