Author Topic: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)  (Read 7047 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

hyzenthlay

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8744
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #30 on: July 07, 2013, 05:55:26 PM »
Think about it this way: suppose those of you who are parents are out in public with your kids, and your child has a meltdown.

If my child has a meltdown in the same store,  daily,  to the extent that the employees and other customer's are bothered, yes I'd expect Child Protective Services might be called in.

Likewise if my medical condition in impinging on other people in a public location, clearly it isn't particularly private anymore, and the community at large (I think) has a right to address the issue. Hopefully in a caring way which retains as much privacy as possible.

Jocelyn

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2732
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #31 on: July 07, 2013, 06:09:47 PM »
Think about it this way: suppose those of you who are parents are out in public with your kids, and your child has a meltdown.

If my child has a meltdown in the same store,  daily,  to the extent that the employees and other customer's are bothered, yes I'd expect Child Protective Services might be called in.

Likewise if my medical condition in impinging on other people in a public location, clearly it isn't particularly private anymore, and the community at large (I think) has a right to address the issue. Hopefully in a caring way which retains as much privacy as possible.

You would really like living in a society where store clerks could force your family to receive mental health services because THEY think that your parenting is inferior? Or in which if you 'misbehave' in public, you can be taken away because other people don't like how you're acting?

We used to work this way- mentally retarded children were kept at home because the general public didn't like looking at them. Mentally ill adults were locked away at home, or were incarcerated in state hospitals because their families were embarrassed to have them around. If you were a little different, your personal liberties shrank to whatever your community was prepared to tolerate.

Think very carefully about whether you'd really want your local police to have the right to remove people from public places, not because they've committed a crime, but because someone doesn't like how they look or act. We've done it before, and it keeps getting suggested again and again: 'those' people shouldn't be allowed to associate with the rest of us, we shouldn't have to put up with 'inferior' people who don't know how to behave in public.

If people are committing crimes- disturbing the peace, making terroristic threats- then call the police. The police are the professional who deal with criminal behavior, whether it's committed by persons with a mental disorder or not. But let's not have onlookers deciding that 'they' must be 'crazy'...so that the appropriate thing to do is to force them to have a mental exam right here and now.

hyzenthlay

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8744
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #32 on: July 07, 2013, 06:24:15 PM »
You would really like living in a society where store clerks could force your family to receive mental health services because THEY think that your parenting is inferior? Or in which if you 'misbehave' in public, you can be taken away because other people don't like how you're acting?

Decided to remove my response. It's certainly past the scope of the board, and unrelated to the OP.

Minmom3

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2353
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #33 on: July 07, 2013, 11:41:14 PM »
Jocelyn makes a very good point. 

But if Yarnspinner's library is being over run by people who are crazy or homeless, to the point that their behavior and/or smell is seriously disturbing other clients of the library - I can EASILY see the regular patrons of the library complaining about it, and avoiding it until something changes.  I'd think it's a good way to get the library closed these days.  And saying to call the police predicates a really well trained police force with enough staff to spare for libraries.  Most of them make no bones about admitting they DON'T have the training to deal with people with mental issues, and they are generally are not willing to deal with merely stinky and misbehaving people when they barely have the staff to deal with active criminals.  In addition, I've read an awful lot of news stories over the past 5-10 years where people off their meds and acting out get scared by the police, and are manhandled to the point that they ARE physically hurt, and then are thrown in a jail cell where they aren't helped at all, and some of them have died in those cells, or in the police car before they even get to the cell.  Cops are NOT what ill people need - it's not fair to either set of people to sic the cops on the mentally ill, or physically ill, or merely smelly.

That said, if it were 'MY' library being over run by the homeless or near homeless, I'd be complaining loudly.  I don't care when people sleep in my library (which they do) but I really don't want the crazies taking it over either, and making it an unpleasant place for the rest of us.  I've been accosted by people who are off their meds, or never had them to begin with but they NEED them, and it's unpleasant at best, and frightening at worst. 
Mother to children and fuzz butts....

aussie_chick

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 234
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #34 on: July 08, 2013, 04:22:44 AM »
What is the etiquette issue?

POD to please not refer to people who are homeless, at risk or mentally unwell as crazy or crazies.

Not sure how someone wearing a parka and all rugged up in 95 degree heat is disturbing to anyone else - sounds like someone whose behaviour is not the same as the 'norm' and therefore stands out.
I'm glad for the library and the public that some professionals will be providing insight and hopefully training because anyone who works in public service will encounter people with behaviour that is different as well as with people suffering from disadvantage or illness.

I might be oversensitive given the subject matter but I read this post and wondered if it wasn't just an opportunity to label people and poke a bit of fun at the people encountered in public places. But as I said, I may be over sensitive, and if so, I wear that.

Morrigan

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 753
    • Requests from the Reference Desk
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #35 on: July 08, 2013, 11:04:59 AM »
The bolded happens all the time.  My supervisor told one patron he could not return to the library until he showered and washed his clothes and the man told him to mind his own business and to leave him alone.  He left for weeks and boss felt dreadful because we are all actually fond of the guy but his stench was overpowering in a place that has only two functioning windows we can open and no air conditioning to speak of.  (That is a long story for another time.)  It's bloody hot in here and the reek was horrible.


I'm a reference librarian at a large public library and we have a patron like that...ours smells(ed) like cat urine.  I'd asked him to leave several times (and others have as well), and he'd been suspended for his attitude before.  He won't be back for a year after the last confrontation, though (he spit at us and his my co-worker).  We were not fond of him, though...

Yarnspinner

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3794
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #36 on: July 08, 2013, 03:01:26 PM »
You know, I just began writing a long response here.  And gave up.

When I wrote the original post, I was updating (in general) other posts I have made about "How does one gently deal with a patron who sincerely believes she is being stalked by zombies?  How does one gently convince a patron who won't take no for an answer to take no for an answer?  How does one convince a patron to sit down and leave the staff alone? 

What these folks are doing are not on the calibre of arrest or even banning offenses.

What they ARE doing is driving away every other patron that could use the place. 

Oh--Aussie Chick, you are right.  I didn't elaborate on Harriet's obsession with wearing heavy sweaters and coats in the middle of August.  What I should have said is that Harriet, while not being physically abusive, is unbearably demanding in her behavior, insisting that someone sit with her each day to help her access her email account (whose password she has forgotten again) or to help her print out reams of pages which she then throws away.  She is a very angry lady and I would like to know what I can do to make her a little less angry that will also not take me away from my book order, real reference questions, teaching a computer lab or finishing the weeding of a bookcase.  I should have put that in there instead of just mentioning her attire.

Edited because I had written a long rant after saying I wouldn't write a long rant.  So I removed what I wrote and invite the mods to close the thread.  I understand what other people are saying and why they feel the way they do.  I don't understand why they do not understand why so many librarians feel as they do and why they feel helpless to change the situation.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 03:03:44 PM by Yarnspinner »

MrTango

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2042
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #37 on: July 08, 2013, 03:13:15 PM »
With Harriet, what I would do is this:

Tell her that you have other tasks you need to perform and that you will not be able to assist her today.  Let her get angry.  If she starts making a scene, firmly tell her that she will need to be quiet and respectful of other patrons or she will be required to leave the library.

If she doesn't follow the rules, follow whatever escalation procedures are in place for such occurrances (basically, treat her as any other patron who is causing problems).  If she at any time threatens physical violence or acts in a physically intimidating manner, I'd jump straight to calling the police to have her arrested and removed from the library.

EllenS

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1218
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #38 on: July 08, 2013, 03:38:51 PM »
I am glad you are getting some expert advice on how to focus on your own job, and not on managing patron's unreasonable demands or expectations in order to keep them behaving appropriately.  It should not be your job to worry about keeping patrons from acting out, if they cannot control their own behavior under reasonable limitations and reasonable amounts of attention.

Lynda_34

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1116
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #39 on: July 08, 2013, 03:52:34 PM »
The problem here is that everyone has rights.  However to quote someone, (I don't remember who)  "My rights end where your nose begins."
 Mental illness is everywhere in this country and the "clients, residents, customers, crazies" aren't regulated, followed.  People can go off their meds who are perfectly nice lovely people while on their meds and turn into stark raving mad people.  Others may never have been on meds, having fallen through the cracks in multiple situations.

Yes, society used to shutter these people away and now they can live among the rest of us however, just as we teach our children what is acceptable within the structure of society we have to be able to allow these people to co-exist with us while gently enforcing the same boundaries we impose on ourselves.

I applaud the mental health community in your area for willing to come in, observe, offer advice and possibly get these people some of the help they obviously need.

jellyjar

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 54
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #40 on: July 08, 2013, 04:17:55 PM »
This topic got me to thinking and last night I googled about it. I was amazed at how much of a problem it is.  I think that my library isn't as affected so I had no clue the challenges the public library system is facing nationwide with this issue.  I really have no real advice, but feel that while it is wonderful to be helpful and kind, you should have the right to enforce the same boundaries that you would with any citizen who walks in the library.  If a typical person comes in and is volatile or irritating or offensive, you should be able to treat all patrons the same way you do a typical patron.  You are not a social worker or therapist and can't possibly meet all these needs.  So if someone is volatile because you can't sit with her while she is accessing email and you have to teach a class, then she will just have to become volatile and be removed.  You can't be everything to everyone all the time.  That is too much pressure for anyone, especially as overworked as your library seems to be.  Be kind and compassionate and accomodating in the ways you should be for special needs, but be realistic in what you can do. 

I hope the health care professionals can give you good advice and help in this situation. 

camlan

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8340
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #41 on: July 08, 2013, 04:49:56 PM »
What is the etiquette issue?

POD to please not refer to people who are homeless, at risk or mentally unwell as crazy or crazies.

Not sure how someone wearing a parka and all rugged up in 95 degree heat is disturbing to anyone else - sounds like someone whose behaviour is not the same as the 'norm' and therefore stands out.
I'm glad for the library and the public that some professionals will be providing insight and hopefully training because anyone who works in public service will encounter people with behaviour that is different as well as with people suffering from disadvantage or illness.

I might be oversensitive given the subject matter but I read this post and wondered if it wasn't just an opportunity to label people and poke a bit of fun at the people encountered in public places. But as I said, I may be over sensitive, and if so, I wear that.

If you read some of Yarnspinner's other posts about some of these patrons at her library, you would find that she is always very sensitive of their needs. She clearly likes some of them, and sounds very patient and caring about all of them.

Which is why the extreme negative comments her post generated really surprised me. All she said was that the library was going to get professional help from people who are experienced in dealing with the mentally ill, so that the library staff could better do the jobs they are paid to do.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn

Onyx_TKD

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1204
Re: Well, It's A Start! (Dealing with the Mad and the Reality Challenged)
« Reply #42 on: July 08, 2013, 05:20:32 PM »
What is the etiquette issue?

POD to please not refer to people who are homeless, at risk or mentally unwell as crazy or crazies.

Not sure how someone wearing a parka and all rugged up in 95 degree heat is disturbing to anyone else - sounds like someone whose behaviour is not the same as the 'norm' and therefore stands out.
I'm glad for the library and the public that some professionals will be providing insight and hopefully training because anyone who works in public service will encounter people with behaviour that is different as well as with people suffering from disadvantage or illness.

I might be oversensitive given the subject matter but I read this post and wondered if it wasn't just an opportunity to label people and poke a bit of fun at the people encountered in public places. But as I said, I may be over sensitive, and if so, I wear that.

If you read some of Yarnspinner's other posts about some of these patrons at her library, you would find that she is always very sensitive of their needs. She clearly likes some of them, and sounds very patient and caring about all of them.

Which is why the extreme negative comments her post generated really surprised me. All she said was that the library was going to get professional help from people who are experienced in dealing with the mentally ill, so that the library staff could better do the jobs they are paid to do.

The OP was quite vague about the new plan. Since she is so close to the situation and so familiar with what's going on, I'm sure it was quite easy to omit certain details that would seem obvious to someone involved. But the result was that it left some readers with the impression that the library was doing something with serious ethical issues, and in the absence of more detail, people responded based on their interpretation of what was happening.

All the OP said about their new plan was
I don't know what happened, but IS took the suggestion we have been making for months, called the local mental health professionals and they will start becoming a permanent presence here next week.  Hopefully some of these folks will get help and some of the others might find a new place to hang out.

To me, the statement in red implied that the mental health professionals were going to intervene directly with patrons they suspected of mental illness and try to get them into treatment. Also, it suggested that whatever the mental health professionals would be doing would be intrusive and unpleasant enough to drive away those who declined treatment. As much as I sympathize with the librarians who have to deal with problematic patrons, that sounded pretty disturbing, for the reasons that Jocelyn has described. I was very glad to see the OP's update that they're actually coming to help the library staff develop strategies to deal with these patrons, but it's not at all what I would have guessed based on the original description.