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SWON News: The Low Down

Have You Ever Felt Unwelcome?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Nathan Swartzendruber
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  • A library code of conduct for everyone
  • Create positive interactions between staff and teens
  • Have you ever walked into a place and immediately felt like you were under suspicion? The security guard keeps looking your way. None of the employees smile at you. Some ignore you completely and act like you don't exist. Clearly you're not welcome there.

    Sometimes, that's how teens feel when they walk into a library.

    Yes, some teens act out sometimes. Libraries have policies in place that set ground rules for patron conduct. When someone is disruptive or harasses others, it creates an environment where no one can fulfill a library's mission. Then everyone loses.

    But if libraries want to bring people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community (as The Seattle Public Library puts it) or to be a place for everyone to explore, discover, and engage (as the Kalamazoo Public Library says), we have responsibilities too.

    On a recent trip to the Cincinnati Museum Center, I overheard a staff member going over the ground rules with a student volunteer. What I heard were simple instructions like, smile at visitors and offer to help them. Easy to talk about, and not always easy to put into practice.

    I'm seeing more and more conferences and organizations adopt codes of conduct that apply to everyone. They don't take the place of library policies, but they're useful in reminding us that we all have a part to play. Being "considerate and respectful" is a great start from to build relationships with teens and create a better library environment for everyone.

    • Nathan Swartzendruber, SWON Technology Educator

    Build connections with teens

    Teens can make positive contributions to your library. It can be hard to see that possibility if your interactions with them are mostly negative. Eden Grey, a teen librarian at Kenton County Public Library, will tell you how to provide good customer service to teen patrons at SWON's Customer Service Circus.

    Join us for a day full of games and practical talks—plenty to learn and try, but no live audience watching. We'll help you work with customers who are differently abled and of different ages, with other topics in the mix too.

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