Sorry, guys, I have been away and my computer at home doesn't work.
I guess I should have done more talking to my immediate supervisor before I came on and talked about what we are supposed to be doing.
Allow me to clarify!
The nice lady from the local city mental health department is coming here to:
a) talk with boss re safety/health concerns for staff as well as mentally ill patrons; some of this was precipitated (I just learned) by immediate supervisor's concern for two homeless, elderly men who were both asleep in the study room next door. We aren't supposed to allow this to happen, however, one man was very sick from cancer treatments and pain meds and he could not wake up. Boss has called EMTs who also had trouble waking him up. Boss wanted to have a social worker or someone follow up with this man. So he got in touch with mental health professional to discuss what can be done, if anything.
b) Mental health professional wants to watch us and see how the interactions go and then recommend ways we can gently get the more tenacious people, who see us as their best friends, to, well, go away for a while.
c) She also wants to assess our problems in general and see if there is a non-intrusive way to help some of these individuals. Obviously we are not going to ask her to get on the case of Special Snowflakes or demanding patrons. And we (finally!!!!!) have security (grudgingly hired by the library board after a couple of ugly stalking incidents) to deal with the people who get angry and start screaming/threatening.
d) We really, really need help to deal with people like Titanic Guy who is mentally challenged, and has kind of has a boy crush on our male staff members. He will stand and talk to them by the hour and NOTHING makes him go away. We really don't want to call security because it isn't a safety issue--he just doesn't have any other friends and he thinks we are his best buddies. He's also loud and sometimes verbally obnoxious....but he's also a very sad, defeated young man and no one wants to hurt him. (What we sometimes do is quietly extend his time on the computer so he has less time to hang around the desk.) Similarly, we need help with people who are hearing voices (Princess Talks to Herself has many, many invisible companions with whom she engages in lengthy debates and often leans in to hear what they have to say), who have major paranoia issues (Ms. I Am Not A lesbian Why Do They Talk To Me), and so on.
e) There was a precedent set some time ago, after one of our non-reality challenged but very nasty patrons took a dislike to a quiet, mentally ill man who likes nothing more than to do the NY Times Sunday crossword. It is his word and the nasty patron started beating him up outside the library. We got the police in for the nasty patron and tracked down the cross word puzzle man's social worker who got him into a new town and a new situation. We managed to contact her recently and although she cannot tell us where he is, she thanked us profusely for helping her get him into a better situation where he is a lot happier and cared for.
So, we aren't going to herd folks to the asylum. It's more likely to be a learning experience for us and a training/field experience for the mental health professionals who will be observing our interactions. And believe me, we will still call our security guys when The Book Thief starts stuffing books down his pants or Angry Man threatens to take a swing at me because I won't let him take out movies for free.