Friday, January 26, 2007

Booknote: Black Belt Librarians

Graham, Warren Davis, Jr. Black Belt Librarians: Every Librarian's Real World Guide to a Safer Workplace. Charlotte, NC: Pure Heart Press, 2006.

ISBN: 1599480275

Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Library Science.

I ordered this book through our ILL after reading a review of it someplace I can't quite remember now. It is a book that my colleagues and bosses should read and act upon. Warren Graham is a library security consultant who writes in a clear, concise, and direct way. While there are a couple of suggestions in the book that I found a bit too optimistic (For example, his assumption that when asked a patron will usually comply with a request to follow the rules. I have dealt with enough incendiary patrons here to know otherwise), the overall message of planning and making the library a safe place is an important one. At 52 pages, I read this one over a lunch period. Now, for the book to be effective, library staff should not only read it, they should discuss it, then look seriously at their library, and implement the suggestions that work best for their library.

There were some quotes from the book that resonated with me. I am not really going to comment on them, tempted as I am, preferring to let them speak for themselves.

  • "A critical point: Administration has to know what they want to accomplish with the security program, and you need to know that they are going to back you up once you advise someone of policy. Everyone has to be on the same page. You simply cannot have priorities that administration doesn't have, and they cannot expect you to follow procedures if they overturn your front-line decision each time a patron complains to them" (8, emphasis mine).
  • "When advising patrons you must always go by their behavior and never their appearance. You must have the same consequences for everyone no matter what their station in life appears to be (9, emphasis in the original).
  • "You must establish a system to train all employees. You don't go into a lion cage with a book on lion taming. Everyone needs to know what is expected of them and that they will be held accountable when they do not follow through. They need to understand that security is part of everyone's job and that one person not doing their part can collapse all the safeguards that have been put in place" (11, emphasis in the original).
Our Circulation Librarian heard me recommend the book, and she has made sure that we order a copy for our library. Now let's see who else actually reads it, and more importantly, moves to implement some ideas.

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