A few reactions, Sweetums, from a fellow public librarian who, for my sins, also happens to be a director.
Public libraries aren’t exactly high risk, but they sure aren’t safe either. Location can mute the risks some, but anybody–howling crazy, pissed off or just plain poison mean–can walk through the doors. A librarian in a distinctly stuffy, upscale city nearby has dealt with an out-of-control stalker for almost two years now. He’s rich, hostile, litigious–and completely out of his mind. Anybody who deals with the general public is fair game.
If it’s any consolation, the large public libraries in our area just went together to purchase an automated system (SAMS) to control public internet access. All of us have experienced prolonged, serious problems with–to be blunt–flaming assholes who think they have an ordained right to camp out on computers as long as they want. We got damned sick and tired of the screaming abuse at librarians, fights (verbal and fists) over time slots, refusing to leave when we close, etc.
That’s one techological fix: it was fairly expensive and it ain’t perfect. I’m concerned, and vicarously pissed as hell, that you didn’t have more immediate protection and back-up. You should never have been put in that position in the first place. Shit happens, and your library is responsible for your welfare, including random shit.
One area of my Main building is somewhat isolated (old building) from other staff–so there’s a panic button installed beneath the desk. The instant a staff member feels threatened, an unobtrusive push with the knee to the button summons assistance within seconds. This was not expensive to install. Staff are trained in ‘conflict resolution’ and all that happy horse shit, but they’re also BACKED. Their safety, and the safety of library patrons, is paramount. If a situation goes sour, they get help; first from other staff to stabilize the mess–safety in numbers–then police.
Assault charges should be a no-brainer. Period. No excuses, no waffling. No administrator worth the pay or responsiblity would dither on that one.
An asshole loser not only cussed you out, he hit you in the face, all because he didn’t want to leave a computer. It should never have happened at all, so now cast a hard, cold eye at how your library responds, Sweetums. If TPTB can’t muster up basic responsiblity toward you, then point out the unmistakable message inaction sends to ordinary, responsible library users. “Great place, that library! Cussing, bullies, maybe even a brawl…almost as fun as biker bar!”