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Dealing with Hostile and Potentially Dangerous Library Users

Good manners and a friendly demeanor will ensure that frontline library personnel can handle most library customer issues. But what if being courteous is not enough? Do you and your co-workers know what to do if someone is emotionally bullying or physically threatening to staff or library visitors? Belligerent? Acting out because of drugs, alcohol, illness, stress, or cognitive issues? Refusing to leave? Caught stealing or damaging property?


The first step is to build the foundation for a safe and welcoming library. Addressing hostile and potentially dangerous behaviors begins with planning, which includes engaging your community in conversations about principles and values, creating policies that are reasonable and enforceable, and evaluating the physical plant. Training your library’s personnel means establishing guidelines for consistent behavior that ensures both staff and visitors are treated fairly and with respect. The awareness, attitude, and actions of library employees are the first defenses against customers who are AOA (Angry on Arrival). However, to be successful employees need support from supervisors and managers, working together to protect library employees, customers, vendors, and visitors as well as your workplace’s property.


Topics include how we influence the behaviors of others; setting limits on what is acceptable; preventing escalation: don’t engage emotionally; distractions, alternatives, and disengagement; and trusting your gut: when to call authorities.


Following this webinar, you will know how to:

• Ensure everyone on the staff knows what to do in emergencies.

• Lower the drama of difficult encounters with library customers.

• Develop consistent responses to challenging customer behavior.

• Improve basic security features of your workplace.

Dealing with Hostile and Potentially Dangerous Library Users


$25 per person for 4+licenses

  • Pat Wagner is a trainer and consultant with 40 years of experience working for libraries, universities, local government, nonprofits, and small businesses. She supports the success of libraries with programs on personnel, supervision, management, leadership, marketing, strategic planning, project management, and communication. Pat has worked with libraries and library organizations throughout the United States, from the smallest rural storefronts to the largest academic and urban library institutions. Pat also is a frequent speaker at state and national conferences. She is known for her good-humored and practical presentations.

  • A single-user license is $49. Learn about discounted rates for 4 or more users. Contact Jenny Newman at or 240.751.0102.

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