When Nice Isn’t Enough: Dealing with Your Library’s Most Difficult Customers

Presented by: Pat Wagner

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Program Number: LI 241

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Good manners and a friendly demeanor can handle most library customer relations issues. But what if civil is not enough? Do you, your staff ,and your co-workers know what to do if someone is emotionally or physically intimidating? If they are belligerent? Impaired by drugs or alcohol? Refusing to leave? Caught stealing or damaging property? Threatening library staff or other library customers? Planning and prevention will work 99% of the time, and when do you call the police?


  • Introduction: Are All Hostile Library Customers Dangerous?
  • The Key Idea: Everyone Needs To Be Prepared!
  • How We Influence The Behaviors Of Others
  • Setting Limits On What Is Acceptable
  • Prevent Escalation: Don’t Engage Emotionally
  • Offer Distractions And Alternatives
  • Trust Your Gut: When To Call The Authorities


  • Ensure everyone on the staff knows what to do in emergencies.
  • Lower the drama of difficult encounters.
  • Develop consistent responses to customer behavior.

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