A survey of violence in public libraries

2016-03-07T14:40:06Z (GMT) by Hannah M. McGrath
This research investigates the extent to which violent and aggressive behaviour by library users is a recognised problem in public libraries, and seeks to identify preventive measures to reduce the problem and improve the working environment for staff. Public libraries in four counties were surveyed, questionnaires being completed by various types of library staff. A review of the relevant literature identifies the issues surrounding violence in the workplace and analyses violent behaviour in libraries and the various types of problem users. The results indicate that public libraries suffer from a wide range of problem users. Serious incidents which involve physical assault are rare, although verbal abuse is widespread and is generally tolerated by staff who regard it as 'part of the job'. The role of the Library Charter and the concept of customer care as a means of reducing aggressive situations in libraries are discussed. Although customer care is largely regarded as sufficient training for reducing aggression in customers, many staff would prefer specific training for dealing with difficult situations, as well as the provision of security cameras and other deterrents. The use of personal alarms was also suggested as a means of summoning help once a situation became potentially violent or when an incident actually occurred.