Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Worse day in a library

Today I experienced the worse day ever while working in a library.

(More after the jump)

For starter, I was working for the second time only in a library where I am really not at ease (so far I've worked in fifteen of the forty-four library of the Montreal libraries network and, beside the computerized catalog, every library is completely different from the others). The work-flow behind the counter is awkward and complex and, despite the accommodating attitude of my co-workers, I was really feeling overwhelmed, like a bumbling idiot (Maybe I was simply tired?). Well, I think that the Montreal libraries network is a “network” only by name and that greater effort should be made to uniformize all the libraries. It is particularly hard for the people who do lots of replacements in many different libraries. It is very comfusing and hard to remember all the specifics of a particular library...

On top of that I was almost assaulted by a user. A mistake was made with his internet reservation and it was not possible to give him access to a computer. The guy (of North African or Middle-Eastern origin) started to insult us (he called me a fag -- of course, to a super macho guy, if you're polite and deferent you must be a fag! -- and made some racist comments) and eventually became rather agressive (he walked behind the counter and tried to pick up a fight with me but I withdraw further behind the counter and a librarian interposed herself between us). He was escorted out of the library. The guy was behaving awkwardly and smelled of alcohol (beware of drunk arabs!). I was told it was not the first time he caused problems and even assaulted another user before. Surprisingly, the police was never called, he was never banned from the library or his library privileges never cancelled (although, after I remarked that with such behavior his privileges should be revoke, they were). After the first problem, the librarian in charge simply “talked” with him (like a school principal to a student). I think most librarian are really too lenient with discipline (in some libraries people are not even asked to keep their voice down and it can become really noisy!) and there is no clear guidance on how to react with violent people. Something should really be done about that.

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