Posts filed under ‘Demographics’
A post by Cynthia Lambert
In the past I have blogged about what surprised me when I first came to libraries. Many people commented on the drunken patron—an unexpected customer service challenge if ever there was one. One thing I expected, but three years later still have no idea how to deal with, are the mentally ill or chemically altered patrons. I am not alone.
When I get together socially with librarians both new and seasoned, often the talk of customer service turns into laments about the homeless, the mentally ill, drug addicts, and the unwashed. No one it seems has any idea how to properly help and/or deal with these people. Why is that?
A March, 2009 article in Public Libraries gives a list of 10 tips for dealing with the mentally ill, all of which suggest training. In library school—only one class, a class on communication, even touched on the issue of mentally ill people at the library. Of the four libraries I have worked in, not one gave me training, despite mentally ill, homeless, and drug addicted patrons causing problems—some small, some very significant. In fact, at one, most of the staff simply will not deal with the issue. Rules in place against sleeping or pornography are ignored and management explicitly stated that maybe it is best to just let them sleep unless another patron complains.
The San Francisco Public Library is trying something new to deal with the problem. They have hired a full-time social worker. While I think that is fantastic, the reality is that very few libraries have the money to hire adequate library staff these days, let alone getting into the business of health care. So what is there for the rest of us?
Other than a handful of articles, I have found no indication of a training program in place to help library staff identify and deal with the mentally ill or drug addicted. I am sure there are many programs out there, I simply cannot find them. I found programs for educators, for families, for children, for teens, and for law enforcement, but nothing for libraries and library professionals.
The literature I did find is limited, suggests speaking to experts, and provides a list of ‘tips’. Much of what I do know, I have learned informally on the job or from other librarians. (For example, never yell, speak harshly, or seem upset–simply speak in a calm voice, speak clearly and in short sentences, show respect, enforce the rules).
Librarians love training. We love meetings. How many offers of training on Twitter or Facebook have you seen in the past year? Now think about how many you have received for dealing with drug addicts or the mentally ill? How many hours have you spent in endless meetings discussing the best way to support e-books? Now consider how many hours have been spent on dealing with difficult patrons in a safe and effective manner (and get management does not cut it given there lack of availability at night and on weekends).
So I ask you dear readers—please send me your training programs, your tips, your tricks, and your coping strategies for dealing with the mentally ill or drug addicted. It is my goal to create an online professional directory of services, training, tips, and discussion to assist library professionals in dealing with the most needy and most challenging of patrons.
Co-editors (Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic & Robert J. Lackie) of the book Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators (Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2009) and three of the chapter authors (Katie Elson Anderson, Patricia H. Dawson, and Diane K. Campbell) participated in a panel discussion last night. The event, sponsored by the Rutgers University–Camden’s Cappuccino Academy (a series of free public lectures delivered by Rutgers–Camden faculty members) was held at the Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ. All five panelists–library faculty members at Rutgers University and Rider University–briefly discussed their findings on this new generational cohort and how technology can and has been enriching the library and classroom experience for them.
Lead editor and chapter author Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic (Rutgers University) began the discussion by welcoming the audience, introducing the panelists, and talking about why she was so interested in co-editing and writing sections of the book, not to mention having her own personal cohort of Gen M students at home. Vibiana also provided some background on the book, which offers advice on everything from teachers joining Facebook to the pitfalls of Google searches. She mentioned that one of the most significant aspects about Gen M is that they are the first generation raised in an era of personal and real-time information sharing and provided some examples. Last but not least, she made available a discount order form for those who might be interested in purchasing a personal copy, or one for their library or school.
Co-editor and chapter author Robert J. Lackie (Rider University) spoke next, emphasizing that we need to remember, as library faculty members, to strive to satisfy all of our “customers,” and that includes Gen M students, faculty, and staff–those born in the early 1980’s to the mid-to-late 1990’s. He shared research from the book and on the Web about Millennials (aka Gen M), including a few points via presentations by Richard Sweeney, University Librarian at NJIT, to help us all better understand this unique cohort. Richard has stated that Gen M:
- Expect/demand more choices
- Want more personalization/customization
- Want instant gratification
- Like multitasking, IMing, text messaging, and collaborating online
- Are experiential learners
- Are open to change
Note: Library Garden bloggers interviewed Richard Sweeney, who is a recognized expert on understanding and engaging the Millennial Generation, almost three years ago and this post is still available.
Robert finished by sharing some of the witty “cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college” found again in this year’s Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2013, such as, “Text has always been hyper” and “Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on,” two of the 75 comments on this year’s list.
Patricia H. Dawson and Diane K. Campbell (Rider University), who co-authored Chapter 2 in the book, entitled, “Driving Fast to Nowhere on the Information Highway: A Look at Shifting Paradigms of Literacy in the Twenty-First Century,” spoke about emergent issues and challenges we face as librarians and educators while working with Gen M. They provided information comparing different types of literacy (i.e., literacy, computer literacy, and information literacy) and provided a handout/table to the audience members explaining this. They discussed how Gen M struggles with judging information for reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias because so much of the information that Gen M students find online, especially the validity of that information, is much more difficult to assess than within most print sources. They noted that there, unfortunately, are fewer “quality cues” with a lot of online information on the free Web.
Katie Elson Anderson (Rutgers University), who authored “Chapter 8: YouTube and YouTube-iness: Educating Gen M Through the Use of Online Video,” may have spoken last, but she definitely caught the attention of the audience as she discussed the extreme popularity and the educational uses of YouTube (including YouTube EDU) and several other video sites for teaching and working with Gen M. Video sites she highlighted during her talk at Barnes & Noble were the following:
By the way, here is a free PDF of the table of contents now available, listing all contributors and their chapters. We hope you enjoy reading about the above panel discussion/book talk, as well as the book itself, and we welcome your comments.
On June 7, 2007 I blogged about a keynote talk I gave on June 1, 2007 at the Oregon Virtual Reference Summit 2007 organized by Caleb Tucker-Raymond, Oregon Statewide Digital Reference Services Coordinator for the L-net: Oregon Libraries Network consortium. The talk just became available as an audio file on the open web. (Thanks Caleb!) I promised to post to the blog when this happened, so am now able to make good on my promise.
If you’d like to listen to this presentation, click here: “I Was Kind of Confused b4” Interpersonal Communication Research in Virtual Reference.”
The talk focuses on the information-seeking and communication behaviors of the youngest Millennials – the Screenagers. I discuss their predilections and characteristics (multi-tasking, impatience, practicality, convenience, etc.) as well as their perceptions of librarians (“I don’t trust librarians, I trust Google”) and fear of cyber-predators in chat rooms that extends to chat librarians (“I don’t like to chat with strangers.”)
In addition, I comment on some recommendations for improving chat reference encounters with teens . These recommendations were derived from focus groups with screenagers and from in-depth chat reference transcript analysis as part of the IMLS grant project Seeking Synchronicity.
The keynote was about 50 minutes, followed by Q and A, so be forewarned that it is long. Hey, feel free (of course!) to check your e-mail while listening, or to multi-task with other activities ;)
I begin by talking about my background and how I got interested in studying chat reference, so if you want to get to the research results, fast forward through the first 15 mins. or so.
OK, for once, my post is not a post about librarians, teachers, or technology. It is, however, about data–interesting data related to an important event to many this weekend: the Super Bowl.
I found it listed on Librarians’ Internet Index, one of my favorite quality reference sites, brought to us by an unlikely, at least to me, but otherwise well-known quality organization: The U.S. Census Bureau!
This short and interesting special edition press release comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features & Special Editions newsroom, which collects stats on “demographic and economic subject areas intended to commemorate anniversaries or observances or to provide background information for topics in the news.” You can receive RSS feeds to these releases, too, if you want to be cool and stay up-to-date!
Anyway, this latest release provides facts and other links highlighting the demographics of the cities related to and info about the teams in this year’s Super Bowl, as well comparing how times have changed (i.e., populations, aging, educational levels, earnings, baby names) from the 1967 (Super Bowl I) to this year’s Super Bowl XLI.
It’s a quick read, so check it out!