alternatives to policing in libraries

drawing of a long-haired light-colored cat's face
From Cyclopedia of farm animals / edited by L. H. Bailey (1922)

120th chat, Tuesday October 22 2019: alternatives to policing in libraries
6 pm Pacific / 7 pm Mountain / 8 pm Central / 9 pm Eastern

moderated by @LenaGluck
Wakelet (compilation of tweets) (pdf) by @violetbfox

thanks to @ayoola_crayola for help with drafting questions

Note: Some of these questions may be difficult to answer candidly in a public forum like Twitter. Participants are encouraged to tweet anonymously if it seems prudent.

suggested resources:

suggested resources for low spoons / visual sharing:

discussion questions:

  • Q1. How does the presence of police, security officers, or other security personnel affect Black, Indigenous, and other people of color’s ability to freely and safely access your library’s resources and materials? What would have to be the case for BIPOC to be and feel safe in libraries? #critlib
  • Q2. How have you handled situations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, abuse, or other gendered violence (including anti-LGBTQ violence) in the library without involving security/police in the past? In an ideal workplace, how would you and other library staff handle these situations? #critlib
  • Q3: How have disability and health issues (including visible or audible symptoms, mental or physical health emergencies, perceived addiction or alcoholism, etc.) been criminalized in libraries where you have worked, and what is a health-based response that could have been used instead? #critlib
  • Q4. There have been increased threats of organized white nationalist and anti-LGBTQ violence in the past couple decades, including everything from verbal harassment to mass shootings. In the event of supremacists or a mass shooter targeting your library, what would have to be the case for you to feel safe and prepared without relying on police? #critlib
  • Q5. If you have succeeded in starting conversations with coworkers, or supervisors about alternative means to maintain library safety and behavioral boundaries without calling police, how did you do it? What was well received and what wasn’t? #critlib


image description of Alternatives to Police Poster Series:

[A series of posters in bold, bright colors with black text overlaid. 

The first is red and reads, “Some folks are on benches in the park. Imagine… …A city employee comes by and checks in to see if they need a place to sleep, food, water, or health care. An hour later, those who want a different place to sleep have one. Isn’t that public safety?”

The second is purple and reads, “Someone is talking to themselves on the bus. Imagine… …They ride the bus without being bothered. An hour later they are at their destination and going on with their day. Isn’t that public safety?” 

The third is yellow and reads, “Someone is behaving erratically & in harm’s way. Imagine… …Texting a number & an unarmed urgent responder trained in behavioral and mental health comes within 5 minutes. An hour later that person is safe & getting the support they need. Isn’t that public safety?”

The fourth is green and reads, “You don’t realize but your brake lights aren’t working. Imagine… …A city employee signals for you to pull over & says ‘Hey, how about I replace those lights for you right here so no one gets hurt?’ An hour later, both lights work & you’re at home. Isn’t that public safety?

The fifth is pink and reads, “You are experiencing intimate partner violence. Imagine… …Texting a number & a trauma informed crisis intervention specialist meets you in a safe place. An hour later you are working together to make a plan that will keep you safe long term. Isn’t that public safety?”

The sixth is green and reads, “Someone is selling drugs to youth who are overdosing. Imagine… …Being connected to a substance use service that intervenes in harmful drug transactions. Youth are supported in healthy outcomes & the seller takes accountability for harm. Isn’t that public safety?”

The seventh is orange and reads, “Your friends are intoxicated & fighting but you don’t want them to get in trouble. Imagine… …You call +311 and a crisis intervention team comes to your door. 1 hour later, your friends are sleeping it off at home. Isn’t that public safety?” 

The eighth is teal and reads, “Incidents of gun violence are rising in the neighborhood. Imagine… …A trauma informed crisis intervention team works with community activists to disarm and deescalate conflicts. People doing harm are connected to services that address the underlying problem. Isn’t that public safety?” 

The ninth is violet and reads, “You are experiencing a mental health crisis & afraid. Imagine… …You call +311 & a first responder trained in mental health comes to your door. 1 hour later, you are in a safe place with your consent, with plans for follow up care. Isn’t that public safety?”

The tenth is red and reads, “Someone seems to be snooping in car windows on your block. Imagine… …Calling your neighbors who are trained in self-defense & deescalation & approaching the person. An hour later the conflict is resolved & the person responsible is getting the support they need. Isn’t that public safety?”

End image description]