The problem of working with the public is quite often the public themselves. I’ve been very lucky thus far in that I haven’t had too many angry patron episodes, and those few that I have had were computer related, i.e. the patron didn’t understand, agree with, or wish to follow my library’s internet usage rules (some of which are federal rules, which I really have no control over). I’m sure part of my luck has to do with my general wimpiness when it comes to confrontation. I really need to work on my courage when asking patrons not to use their cell phones in the library, or to manage their unattended children. I’m better with the children problem than the cell phones. I just can’t bear to interrupt someone talking on their phone to tell them they can’t be talking on their phone. There’s got to be a good balance between good manners and doing my job.
Another problem I have with patrons is lateness. I know people have busy lives, and I appreciate it every time when they take the time to come to my events. But it kills me when I have parents bringing their kids in five, ten minutes late for a storytime or a music class. For one thing, it’s distracting to me the reader and to all the listeners when someone new crams into the circle or drags a chair across the floor to have a seat. It’s also rude, and rudeness is one of my pet peeves (which you might have guessed from my inability to interrupt rude cell phone people). I have one particular pair that is almost ten minutes late every week to a half-hour class. I’m not sure how to confront this problem, however. I don’t want to further interrupt myself or the program by calling attention to the latecomers, and I wouldn’t know what to say to them afterwards to improve the situation. If there’s anyone out there reading who has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.