Wednesday, September 21, 2005

When is it OK to ban someone from the library?

Whew, this is hard.

Deep in my heart I believe that library service should be provided for all. At the same time, how do you make other people behave and take responsibility for their actions?

Today I did one of the hardest things I am called upon to do. I banned someone from the Library.

This young man has been an Internet regular for quite some time. A few weeks ago his behavior started to change. He began "chatting up" some of the staff. [Ironically this has been a thread on NEXTGENLIB-L for about the past week.] He was told to stop doing this. He then started asking very personal questions of staff (women staff), and did not stop doing so after several requests. He has also been following one of the other regular Internet users (a young woman).

Today, I talked with him and banned him from using the main library building for 3 months (until December 21). With me, he was acquiescent. I tried to get an address so that I could send him a letter to outline specifics and his right of appeal to the Library Board, but he refused that. I am glad that the police officer, whom we had called, was present. Now, even though he is banned from one building, we have three other branches open, and he can go there.

Where do you draw the line? Part of my responsibility as an employer is to provide a safe workplace for the staff. That is the line which this person crossed. In my career I have only "fired" three people. Once was many years ago, someone who was nearing the end of probation and was not meeting the standard of performance. The other two were in the last couple of years, and both were because the staff members fired (one a man, one a woman) were sexually harassing fellow staff members.

This spring, I encouraged then drove a staff member to the police station to swear out a complaint against a patron who was harassing her. It put an end to that ugly situation. And he was banned from using that branch.

So...grump. And this was after we had a false fire alarm in the building this morning, just before we should have opened to the public. Ugh

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Day in the Life

In emailing with one of my colleagues, I found that she has been asked to write an article chroniclers a typical work day. The most humorous example of this which I know, was published by Library Journal more than 15 years ago. It was written by David Bryant, now director of the New Canaan Library. He was a director in New Jersey, and wrote a very humorous piece.

Well, the editor of the library newsletter in Wilton, convinced me to do the same about a typical day for me. It was one of those days, including dropping the youngest off at day care (so it had to be about 1989 or so), with Rotary, book selection, and a phone call from the elder son that he forgot his keys and broke the window in the back door to let himself (and his younger brother) in the house.

Funny, yes. True? Mostly. Now how about today:
  • Dropped my car keys in the storm drain
  • Called WPCA (sewer folks) who got them out
  • Visited a branch on the way back to work
  • Had a staff member at a short staffed branch resign
  • Call from the FBI for the old typewriter ribbons
  • Innumerable ALA Council emails over Councilors behaving badly
  • Met to deal with food for the weekend (I am co-Head Cook, how many coming....don't know yet. Could be 150, could be 200.) Ordered food for 175.
  • Made appointment for oil change & to fix dragging bumper part (from AUGUST!)
  • Attended City Council Budget and Appropriations Committee (made some folks nervous -- good!)
  • Got home for dinner at 7:45 pm
  • Had three phone calls about scouting stuff before dinner!
Typical day? No! Accurate? Mostly. Note to self: Write glowing thank you note to WPCA for prompt service. I have to say, I did not pull rank, and they were great!

I'm famous (?)

Well, I had been very far behind in my blog reading, what with FBI visits, USA PATRIOT Act lawsuits, and such. I see that back in mid August, Jessamyn West (whom I admire greatly for her commitment to librarianship and technology) posted some nice words about me on her site. Not only that, Jessamyn has nailed down some of the best names on the web:,, and who knows what else.

Thanks for the plug.

Decision in ACLU vs. Gonzalez (Round 1)

The decision was released late on Friday. Here it is. It is an umitigated victory for librarians and free speech advocates. However, the ruling was stayed until September 20 to allow the feds to appeal.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Other stuff

So, why was I not at the ACLU hearing? It was move-in day at Boston University for members of the Marching Band (and others). My daughter is a member of the Marching Band. Band Camp began that evening, with the bus departure scheduled for 3 pm. That meant leaving home by about 9 am to get to Beantown, get the car unloaded, and let her get a little settled.

In the meantime, while waiting that morning, I turned on the computer and checked my email. My mother had gone for a colonoscopy the morning before. They had snipped some polyps, and I guess snipped a little too much. There was "leakage" and she went back to the ER and then they did surgery in the early hours of the morning. [Side note: I am fortunate that my youngest brother lives in her house, and had handled most of this. My second-to-youngest sister got called in early, she lives about 1/2 hour away.] So after many phone calls while driving to Boston, I stopped at the hospital to see my mother on the way home.

She is now about to be discharged and sent to "rehab" for about a week before going home. I saw her again on Sunday after representing her at her aunt's 95th birthday party. Needless to say there have been numerous emails and phone calls with my siblings over my mother's health during the past week. All the while the USA PATRIOT Act and the "will ALA meet in New Orleans in June" saga continues.

Connecticut Librarian served with NSL -- Not me!

Actually this is kind of old news, but it has been a hectic week or more. I'm not sure where it was first reported, but late on Tuesday August 30, I got a call from the ALA Washington Office asking if I could attend the open court hearing scheduled for the next morning where the ACLU was asking a federal judge to lift a gag order. Here is the Yahoo News story. Late in the previous week ALA had noted that the suit was filed, but most of us expected the hearing to be sealed.

Well, let me start and admit what I have told every newspaper reporter who called: The National Security Letter was not filed with me as the Bridgeport City Librarian.

Actually, it was quite interesting. The New York Times reporter was the only one who followed up on the question of had the FBI ever visited me. The answer was "Yes." And here is the story.

At this point (September 8) we are still waiting for the Judge to rule. I'll do some more on this later, also.