#publibchat January 12, 2017 - Sexual Harrassment of Library Workers

  1. 5 MINUTES! Join #publibchat & #critlib to talk about sexual harassment of library workers. 9pmET/8CT/7MT/6PT https://t.co/wanLyQmhGT
    5 MINUTES! Join #publibchat & #critlib to talk about sexual harassment of library workers. 9pmET/8CT/7MT/6PT pic.twitter.com/wanLyQmhGT
  2. Hi all! Welcome to tonight's #publibchat! Tonight's discussion on sexual harassment of librarians is moderated by myself and @dejah_thoris
  3. FYI - While tonight's chat is a collab between #critlib and #publibchat we are only using the #publibchat to track tweets tonight
  4. We will be using the Q&A format. To respond to Q1 begin your tweet with A1, etc. And don't forget the hashtag! #publibchat
  5. Before our first question, please introduce yourself if you'd like! #publibchat
  6. SO glad to be having conversation about sexual harassment. Such a problem for my coworkers and me #publibchat
  7. My name is Charissa! I'm an academic librarian but I spent many summers working at a pub lib and am excited about tonight's chat #publibchat
  8. Katie, reference assistant at IL public library, current MLS student at U of I, RA specialist #publibchat
  9. There is no tracking of who posts to the relay and thus allows anonymous contributions to the chat. #publibchat
  10. Hi! I'm Greg Bem from the Library Learning Commons at LWTech, (tech. college in Kirkland, WA) Will mostly be lurking tonight. #publibchat
  11. @kt_librarylady hesitant to like this but thanks for joining the conversation. hopefully the discussion will be helpful. #publibchat
  12. #publibchat my name is Caroline, and I work with teens at a public library
  13. Hello from snowy nothern MI! I'm a metadata & eresources librarian but I've worked plenty of night shifts on the desk too. #publibchat
  14. Hi #publibchat. Lib technologist at UW-Seattle. Mainly listening tonight and ensuring the relay works.
  15. @metageeky THANK YOU for creating that and letting us borrow tonight for the chat! #publibchat
  16. Q1 What measures are in place your work to protect you? Support you? Are they adequate? #publibchat
  17. A1 Support from mgmt and admin, plus strong security team. We can write up patron for harassment without worry of repercussions #publibchat
  18. Please consider comparing prior workplaces in your responses too especially if they were different types of libraries. #publibchat
  19. A1 Though I work for a small nonprofit that supports public libraries, we still have policies in place like many publibs #publibchat
  20. greetings #publibchat from rainy Montreal! I've been working in libraries for 12 years. Looking forward to this discussion.
  21. @kt_librarylady that's great to hear! support from admin is really great. Does writing patrons up result in anything? #publibchat
  22. Also if you worked somewhere that handled situations really well or terribly please discuss that experience. #publibchat
  23. #publibchat we have policies, but they do not adequately address the perceived casual nature of some harassment, ex: rep. Asking out staff
  24. Hi! Kate Kitchens, academic librarian in Iowa. I'm just lurking tonight. #publibchat
  25. A1 I also volunteer regularly in a publib. Come to think of it, not sure how I am covered there as a volunteer... #publibchat
  26. @Overcastallen I'm sorry to hear that - what types of harassment do the policies protect against? #publibchat
  27. Support from admin came after I spoke to manager about the issues we (desk staff) were having w/ casual harassment #publibchat
  28. A1 State/federal laws and uni policies. We'll seek help to protect student workers - now - but staff are in our own #publibchat  https://twitter.com/CharissaAPowell/status/819727996831547393 
  29. A1 I've never seen one for an academic library that really covers it well. Disruptive patron behavior, yes. #publibchat
  30. A1 And sexual harassment from mgmt/coworkers, yes. Having been assalted as student library worker I wonder if any address them. #publibchat
  31. A1 going to be honest, I'm not 100% sure about policies at my workplace. I don't recall it being covered during my training #publibchat
  32. @Overcastallen Yes & no. There is a regular patron that doesn't really understand personal space and does not read social cues. #publibchat
  33. A1 In my case it was student worker to student worker, so maybe under the university code of conduct had I pressed charges. #publibchat
  34. hey #publibchat #critlib, trying to lurk on my lunch break, following w interest. public librarian, australia
  35. A1.2 I DO know that there are strict no photography rules in my library for sexual harassment reasons #publibchat
  36. @dejah_thoris One complaint I have is that's buried in our website's sitemap (makes mental note to pass that insight on) #publibchat
  37. @dejah_thoris the ONLY time I ever see actual action is when we're allowed to bring in campus security/equal opportunity office #publibchat
  38. @Overcastallen thank you for sharing! that is unfortunate, however. trying to see if there's a trend here #publibchat
  39. @Overcastallen Never been inappropriate but can be uncomfortable @ times. Recently gasped when they come up right beside me. #publibchat
  40. @kt_librarylady that makes me so sad! No one deserves to be settled with sexual harassment as a side effect of their profession #publibchat
  41. Q2 Are incidences of sexual harassment openly discussed at your work? What would you like to change? #publibchat
  42. @Overcastallen The patron was explained to me and I was told that if I ever felt uncomfortable to let a staff memeber know. #publibchat
  43. #publibchat Interesting off-channel discussion: Academic libs, search to see if your lib has a code of conduct on website. How buried is it?
  44. #publibchat A2 incidences are openly discussed, but there's often no desire to follow through w/ action against the offending patron.
  45. A2 We have a security incidents database and workflow such that the DB sends email about all* incidents right away #publibchat
  46. @metageeky I literally can't find mine right now and I'm really frustrated #publibchat
  47. * Well... sort of right away. Only applies to library incidents, some policies delay some, etc. #publibchat
  48. @metageeky they did just today release the new website...so I'm hoping I'm just having a hard time finding it #publibchat
  49. A1 I made a point of doing it with my student workers when I ran night shift. Controversial but I felt they should know. #publibchat
  50. A2 When I worked in a public library, it was openly discussed but seen as a compliment to be hit on by patrons #notamused #publibchat
  51. A1 But I think I'm the exception. Most people are surprised that I did the "sex in the library" talk but weird shit happens. #publibchat
  52. A2.2 I was also REALLY young - I was 18 my first summer there. Pretty creepy thinking back on it. #publibchat
  53. A2 By patrons? Yes if it affects student workers. By coworkers/campus peers? Nope. Even I'm afraid to call it out and I'm mouthy #publibchat  https://twitter.com/dejah_thoris/status/819732321788166146 
  54. @schomj this so hit on another thought I was having. Discussing sexual harassment by staff among staff is tight lipped #publibchat
  55. @kt_librarylady that is great to hear! I didn't fully realize how harmful that line of thought is until much later #publibchat
  56. A1 That talk also covered patron sexual activity too, like how to clear the dark computer lab of that one guy in the back #publibchat
  57. #publibchat A2 I would love to change the culture of hitting on all women who smile at you
  58. @CharissaAPowell I used to have a CW who women warned me not to get in the elevator with. Who'd assaulted a student worker. #publibchat
  59. A2.3 Not sure what question this would fall under, but I am recently remembering that my academic lib had a problem with a ... #publibchat
  60. @CharissaAPowell But admin refused to follow up on verbal complaints and discouraged written ones. So then what? #publibchat
  61. A2.4 repeat offender masturbator and I had friends who would jokingly ask for updates. #publibchat
  62. A2.5 not a joke to the student staff member who found the patron and had to call the police #publibchat
  63. @schomj @CharissaAPowell Sexual harassment in libraries seems compounded when combining it w/ harassment in academic institution #publibchat
  64. @RobinDesmeules @CharissaAPowell #publibchat I get a lot of comments about being TOO smiley, people call me girl, dear, etc bc of it and talk down to me. Ya just can't win.
  65. @schomj mmhmm. I had someone (in hushed tones) warn me about someone on the tenure committee. Really disturbing for a newbie #publibchat
  66. #publibchat A3 I raised a concern about a volunteer turned patron who would follow me/ask me out on weekends, staff was supportive
  67. I should've kept the info on my Ohio stalker. Can't seem to find the news article where he got busted at the public library. #publibchat
  68. A3 I have been lucky enough to have responsive work environments. #publibchat
  69. A3. Security will often talk to patron if we raise a concern with them. Patron removed from library if behavior continues #publibchat
  70. A3 Poorly by my Dean who left me and 2 female student workers for night shift. THANK GOD my guybrarian coworker stayed w/us!! #publibchat
  71. A3 Nobody understood why he scared me so much because he was smart as hell. Talked normally with every other coworker too. #publibchat
  72. #publibchat does anyone feel that a lack of training caused them to tolerate something their work place actually had policies to handle?
  73. A3 DPS did come by once & would walk us out if we called, but they didn't get it. Then he groped a teen girl & was arrested. #publibchat
  74. @CharissaAPowell Also helped that we've had several retired police officers on safety staff over last few years! Big help. #publibchat
  75. @radicalibrarian #publibchat been there. What can management/workers do to change this avoidance of hard talks and lack of knowledge?
  76. @Overcastallen great q, early in career the workplace culture led me to tolerate harrassment id never put up w now #publibchat
  77. A3 It led to a HUGE fight over whether I could lock the loading dock door that was right next to my office. #publibchat
  78. @Overcastallen Perhaps make it a more formal, written process? Makes people less uncomfortable but still encourages reporting? #publibchat
  79. A3 You know, because ILL is more important than whether we all get shot or whether I get jumped by a nutzo. #publibchat
  80. @melbrarian #publibchat that's definitely a big issue. No one wants to ruffle feathers, especially early in their career
  81. @Overcastallen part of that is training, part is other factors, esp expectation that this is part of working w public #publibchat
  82. I was physically lifted out of my chair by a guest speaker in front of a senior staff person who didn't bat an eye, so... IDK #publibchat  https://twitter.com/Overcastallen/status/819736979638284288 
  83. @Overcastallen also just acknowledge that this is a regular part of being a woman and make sure there are ways of listening. #publibchat
  84. A3 I tried to frame it as a building security question because maybe folks will listen to that. Kinda. Locked it after 10am. #publibchat
  85. #publibchat A4 always offer to ask the patron giving them problems to leave. It's easier to follow policy when you're not the target.
  86. yes, exactly! as newbie library worker i was reluctant to make waves for fear of seeming unprofessional or not up to the job #publibchat  https://twitter.com/overcastallen/status/819738802096848898 
  87. @schomj #publibchat I would definitely say that person lacked some training (and empathy)
  88. and coworker is uncomfortable, I try to step in and tell patron to knock it off, that they're being inappropriate. #publibchat
  89. A4 Trust and believe someone if they confide in you about sexual harassment #publibchat
  90. I have no faith that people will have my back if they don't even have a kindergarten-level understanding of bodily consent. #publibchat
  91. @CharissaAPowell @melbrarian @Overcastallen Yes, I don't let anyone tell me "That's just life" when I complain about harassment! #publibchat
  92. @kt_librarylady #publibchat that's great that you're a source of support for your coworkers, always make it easier to deal w/ when you have help!
  93. @schomj #publibchat I would say that's a good call. Do you have support from other coworkers?
  94. A4 Keep an eye out for coworkers & volunteers. Easy to pretend to be retrieving a book to make sure they r safe. #publibchat
  95. @Overcastallen YES! We've really banded together over last couple years & very helpful and encouraging. #publibchat
  96. A4 Not at a pub lib, but front desk, we had a code word if someone was bothering a student - sad that we needed this but helpful #publibchat
  97. A4 I sometimes regret not following up when I could've but I wasn't brave enough, so I try to fight more now. #publibchat
  98. @melbrarian I had the same problem! Director was ultimately very supportive, but I was still terrified. #publibchat
  99. A4 If it's a student, we have a new policy where we're required to report sexual assault after a certain level of disclosure. #publibchat
  100. @CharissaAPowell there are a LOT of things that happened to me as a young new lib person that I am horrified to remember now #publibchat
  101. Our hour is up, but feel free to keep the conversation going! I am loving some of these convos <3 #publibchat
  102. @melbrarian #publibchat maybe this is an issue with the perception of professionalism. Not tolerating harassment =/= unprofessional.
  103. @dejah_thoris I have same feeling - I fight more now to make up for the times I didn't feel comfortable speaking up earlier. #publibchat
  104. A4 Believe them. Make sure they have someone supportive with them to file a report. Yell about it (with permission) #publibchat  https://twitter.com/dejah_thoris/status/819738999384207360 
  105. @thelizbrarian RIGHT?! I was 18 yrsold and was often left alone at the circ desk -want to go back and shake some of those admins #publibchat
  106. @CharissaAPowell #publibchat we do the same thing, desk workers have code names for patrons to warn if they're coming in.
  107. @CharissaAPowell straight up and they walked you to your car, with lime and they called the cops... #publibchat
  108. @Overcastallen @CharissaAPowell We warn too, or tell staff during shift changes if something significant happened on desk #publibchat
  109. having all sorts of feels about tonight's #publibchat but I am SO THANKFUL to all of you for sharing your stories and voices tonight <3
  110. This chat has been so helpful. I had stuff to talk about that I didn't even REALIZE was worth talking about. #publibchat
  111. @CharissaAPowell yes, this can be a hard topic. heard some very difficult stories. thanks to all who shared! #publibchat
  112. Having practiced scripts to use in the moment is v. helpful. Just telling someone they're being inappropriate can work wonders #publibchat
  113. Continue the conversations. Please join us on January 24th to discuss the joys of WEEDING! #publibchat
  114. @CharissaAPowell Loved it! Would also love to see this discussion in conferences, workshops, etc. more often in our profession! #publibchat
  115. Big thanks to #critlib for partnering with us for this important topic. And to @metageeky for the use of @CritLib_anon #publibchat
  116. Thanks so much for a great convo #publibchat ! I'm open to future chats w/ anyone who wants to keep talking about this!
  117. I think we had a good chat tonight. Also proud that we didn't devolve into man-hating though you are 99.9% of the offenders. #publibchat