Saturday, October 27, 2007

So, what's your plan?

I plan to sink lower in my chair and pretend that nothing is wrong. But this story about problems in LA libraries has me thinking about job safety.

Sara Adler put a real estate book on hold and was about to retrieve some information on California law schools when the lobby of the Mark Twain Library in South Los Angeles erupted in chaos.

With police and an ambulance on the way, the attackers fled. Adler comforted the injured young man, who was bloody, shirtless and barely conscious.

"Unsafe situations in the Los Angeles Public Library System have put our patrons and staff at risk," Roy Stone, the guild's president, wrote in a letter to city officials, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "It is imperative that patrons and library staff be protected [and] violent and aggressive patrons dealt with."

A weekend drive-by shooting broke a window and left a bullet hole in a wall; there have been threats against the staff. A car window was smashed in the parking lot; graffiti in the bathrooms and on the building is a constant.

Security problems have made it difficult to fill positions. A youth librarian went on stress leave after she was threatened by a regular patron at the branch.

"Security is every employee's job," said David Aguirre, deputy chief of the city Department of General Services, which oversees the Office of Public Safety. "We can't wait until we are the victim of crime. We have to be proactive in our institution."

"Most people who work in libraries are passive by nature," said Graham, who instructed L.A. librarians for a week in April. "So it's difficult for them, at times, to say no or to eject people from the library. That goes against the grain of their nature."

I won't tell you what my plan is, but I'm a survivor. I used to work in retail. I used to sell women's shoes. Back off! I gotta clog and I'm not afraid to use it.

Working in a library, even one in LA, can't be worse than that.

By the way, if Library 2.0 involves virtual technologies for interacting with patrons, what do we call it when they gang up on us and beat us? Library 2-on-1?