Thursday, August 11, 2011

Worst Patron I've Ever Seen

The library I work at is pretty slow; we get anything from 2 patrons an hour (Tuesday nights) to 20 (weekday mornings during summer reading, and Saturdays). Most of our patrons are friendly or at worst indifferent (and I don't work directly with most of them; I put away books).

The worst ones are definitely the parents of small children that ignore their children. I understand that they want to check out books or browse the internet. But they are still parents, and they can't arbitrarily discard their parental duties.

A 2-year-old will not sit calmly and solve a puzzle. A 2-year-old will mess up the puzzle, walk around, and mess up the neatly arranged books. A 2-year-old cannot be left unsupervised.

Some 5-year-olds will solve a puzzle, or play with the blocks, or even read a book without supervision. If their parent knows they will, then that's okay. But many 5-year-olds are not that mature, and they need a constant eye on them.

One such child was in today. He was energetic and almost completely unresponsive to anyone speaking to him; he may be on the autism spectrum. I first found him in the adult fiction section, where he was busying himself removing books to make a hole for his head. When he bored of that, he tried to climb the shelves. His mother, at this point, was up at the front desk unaware of his antics.

I stopped him, replaced the books, and watched him wander off. Within 30 seconds, he'd knocked down a row of kid's books, intentionally. At this point I took his hand and told him he was going up to mommy (who, at this point, was still clueless).

He immediately ran back to the kid's section but didn't knock any more books around, so I went back to work. About two minutes later, I heard a loud thump behind me. The boy had gone up to the mezzanine, taken a large 5-pound book, and managed to throw it over the 4-foot railing. I scooped up the book, went upstairs, and scooped the kid up in one arm. Only when I carried him to his mother did she understand what he'd been doing - and even then she had little to no control over him.

That's the only time I've had to physically restrain someone, and I was only willing to do it because he was putting people in danger. That first book was only fifteen feet from me, and he moved fast. A five-pound book falling from the mezzanine (the rail is fifteen feet above the floor) could easily hurt someone, like the patron sitting at a computer who could have been right in the path of another book.

1 comment:

@eloh said...

There is a large sign in our library to the effect that parents must control their children at all times.

Since the sign there have been fewer problems.... but stupids still hang out for the free movie rentals etc..

Have you ever read this?