Sender: "James B. Casey" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Circulation & Fine Forgiveness.
Circulation Desk Staff are often accused of transmitting
"negative vibes" because of the nature of their function
--- telling people about overdues, fines, unpleasant
rules, etc. --- and it is entirely possible that the mutual
dislike developing via altercations, disputes, "are you
calling me a liar" discussions about unreturned items
can spill over into the realms of projected hostilities.
"Smile more and be nicer" may only be addressing a
symptom of a larger problem. Staff at Circulation
Desks who must enforce difficult and sometimes
unreasonable policies need to be brought into the
policy review process. They must also be empowered
to make decisions --- including fine forgiveness ---
and to negotiate with the firm backing of Administration.
Irate patrons often demand to see the Director to
try to override a policy enforced by Circulation Desk
Staff. Whenever this happens to me, I simply tell the
patron that I will not, in any way, lessen the fine or
fee or judgment made according to Library Policy,
but would be willing to support any such modification
decided upon by the person in charge of the Circulation
Desk since that person would be better aquainted with
any extenuating circumstances which could justify
modification. This empowerment of Circulation
Staff has generally worked for us. Disgruntled
Patrons suddenly find the Circulation Staff to be
more "reasonable" and flexible than the SOB
James B. Casey --- My own views as a public librarian
and candidate for ALA Council.