Give Plainfield its flowers!

Hello all,

As I mentioned in our meeting, the P.P.L emphasizes the importance of patron privacy in all their work. They do not have a link to their policy manual on their site and when it was sent to me, I only received the privacy portion since it was the part I requested but here it is: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ccd73A6Xr5mxC6s-QCV7n6EPSEVJyHU8/view?usp=sharing

It is not perfect but definitely better than most I have seen.

But before I go on about the police interaction training I want to raise an important point; Plainfield is fortunate in the way that a lot of their police officers are or were residents of the city (a lot of former classmates were officers at the time of my employment.) It is very much a community department. While I was there, the library had a good,professional rapport with the officers who would frequent out location. Most officers took the time to know our regulars by name and were never hostile,most. Even so, we still had some officers who would need to be reminded how to do their job (:

That being said, we did have regulars and patrons who were constantly on the police’s radar. Because of this training on how to handle police inquires was part of my orientation. I worked the circulation department so the training I received was minimal because as circ workers we were mainly liaisons between the law enforcement officer (l.e.o) and the assistant director. Any l.e.o that came into the facility solicitation info was always directed to the assistant director. Much like Alison mentioned, the circ staff rule of thumb was to greet them and let them know they would have to talk to a director or supervisor. One of the main things emphasized was answering only things we knew definitive answers to. If they came in asking if we have seen/when was the last time we’ve seen/etc. a particular individual, we had to remind them that without proper documentation we could not disclose that. If they were ever pushy, they would be directed to a supervisor. It also helped we had an amazing circ manager who would take over any police interactions if she was present. She was more experienced and was incredible with these kinds of interactions. I could go on forever how great she is but when it came time to defend our patrons’ privacy she was unwavering, knew her stuff and was great to have around. All the managers were well versed on our policies which I imagine was part of their supervisor training.

The P.P.L did have security cameras and the footage there was never to be shown to anyone. Only certain employees had permission to view the footage and fewer could distribute it to l.e.os. But the footage was only ever handed over to a l.e.o with proper documentation and with the guidance of the library council.

When I first started at the P.P.L I was shook at how important and strongly they pushed for privacy relating to library work. At my current library job, I was shook when I found out this wasn’t the case everywhere. The P.P.L is the library that really showcased to me how great public libraries can be and the way all libraries should be. The small staff does amazing work for their patrons and the community at large. They’re not perfect, maybe not the best library I’ve seen but they’re definitely my favorite.

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I’m really grateful I get to work with them when I/they have the chance!

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That’s so great! It makes me happy to know you all work together. I was on my way out when the teen librarian was brought on board but know he had lots of great ideas.

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I meant to thank you last week for posting this, it’s really really really helpful to read about places that are getting some things right, especially since this sort of work is way more possible when the culture of the workplace is sort of mutually reinforcing. Much easier to e.g. cheerfully decline to disclose someone’s location if that’s how everyone behaves!

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Thanks so much for sharing this @adirod! Two things in particular stand out to me:

  • All staff are involved in upholding/reinforcing the law enforcement policy, not just “librarians” or admin
  • Managers/admin are ready to support staff and stand up for them!

These are two things that should be true at every library, but unfortunately they’re not. Thanks again for sharing this example of Plainfield doing right!

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