Some library mistakes are relatively easy to fix, such as giving someone the wrong change when they pay a fine or mispronouncing the name of an author. What’s harder is when a library user feels they have been insulted or emotionally abused by a staff member, when they see or hear other library users receiving deferential treatment denied to them, when they experience incompetent assistance, or when they are given wrong information. Additionally, when they are accused wrongly of stealing from the library, when they are made fun of because of the way they speak or dress, or when the library fails to ensure their physical and emotional safety.


In the long run, library customers will judge you not by your mistakes but how you address those mistakes and treat people in the aftermath. Topics covered in this webinar include the importance of planning and open discussions, library ethics, legal ramifications, why details count, the importance of a speedy response, and learning from mistakes. Real life case studies will provide examples of the better and worst ways to deal with mistakes in a library workplace.


Following this webinar, you will know how to:


• Create a framework for tracking, dealing with, and following up on library user complaints.

• Hold practice sessions with staff regarding better ways to interact with customers to prevent problems and when issues arise.

• Work with library trustees on how to inform the general public in a timely fashion about library mistakes.

• Determine when mistakes are “one-shots” and when they require a change in policies and procedures.

When Libraries Make Serious Mistakes with Customers

  • Pat Wagner is a trainer and consultant with over 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.