XII. SERVICE INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS
1. GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR DEALING WITH SERVICE INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS
All library users have a right to question library policies, procedures, materials and services. Treat these inquiries as a request for information. When responding, be patient and calm. Try not be feel defensive: you are not being attacked personally and you are not trying to win a battle or defend the honor of the library. Your efforts should center on listening, understanding and explaining. Don't let the volume of a patron's voice or his/her attitude obscure the content of the patron's remarks.
Below are listed some general guidelines to follow in dealing with a patron who is angry, critical, or simply forceful in expressing himself. This approach will convey to the patron your willingness to listen to the question or problem and respond to it. As you respond with interest and information the patron will become calmer and more at ease and the two of you can concentrate on solving the problem rather than having a confrontation.
1. Listen to the patron without interrupting. Let the patron describe the situation.
2. Ask clarifying questions.
3. Demonstrate that your goal is to understand. Support your words with appropriate body language -- a quiet and calm voice, undivided attention, eye contact, nodding or saying, "I see" or "umm".
4. Rephrase what the patron has said by saying, "I want to be sure I understand".
5. Recognize that we make mistakes too. If we have, it is okay to admit that to a patron. If we have made a mistake, however, do not pass judgement on another staff member.
6. Explain appropriate procedures or policy. If the problem is caused by simple confusion this often satisfies the complaint.
7. Explain alternatives so that the patron can solve the problem now or avoid it in the future. This gives a feeling of cooperation and concern on your part.
8. Some patrons will not be satisfied with being heard or being given options. Pass them on to the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager, or take their name and telephone number and have the Branch Manager call them. If the patron wants to take a complaint beyond the Branch, do not hesitate to give the patron the name and business telephone number of the Branch Services Manager and/or Library Director.
9. Prepare the person to whom the complaint is being referred with a brief outline of the problem and your actions.
10. If a patron refuses to end a discussion you may say, "This conversation is no longer productive and I am withdrawing from it. My name is _______________ and my supervisor is _______________".
11. If the patron refuses to end the discussion and becomes disruptive, library personnel should implement other procedures outlined in this manual, as necessary.
12. Branch Manager submits appropriate PUF reports to the Branch Services Manager.
Applicable PUF Report forms:
PUF-04 Patron Suggestion Box Form
PUF-05 Service Inquiries and Complaints Report
PUF-06 Request for Review of Library Materials
PUF-07 Request for Review of Library Materials: Procedures (to be attached PUF-06)
2. INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS ABOUT LIBRARY POLICIES, PROCEDURES, ETC.
All library users have a right to question library policies, procedures, services, programs, etc. When such situations arise, staff members should:
* Remain calm and be receptive and nonjudgmental.
* Listen carefully to the patron's questions or complaint.
* Pause and think before responding.
* Clearly explain the library's policy and show a written copy of it to the patron if available and if necessary.
* Repeat and rephrase what has been said.
* Try to find alternatives, if possible.
* Follow through with action.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Patron questions/inquiries regarding staff behavior should be referred immediately to the Person-in-Charge/Branch or Department Manager or Branch Services Manager.
Circulation A. Your first responsibility is to maintain a smooth flow of work at the circulation desk.
B. If the circulation desk workload allows, you may respond to inquiries about circulation, overdues, fines, registration, and meeting rooms. Otherwise, you will refer these to the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.
Reference C. Your first priority is information service. Depending on how busy it is you may respond to inquiries and complaints about reference materials and information services.
D If the desk is too busy for you to respond to these complaints and inquiries without disrupting service or if the patron is not satisfied with your response, refer the patron to the Person-in-Charge/Branch or Department Manager.
Youth Services E. Your first obligation is the provision of information, readers advisory and programming services to children and/or their parents. If time permits, you may respond to inquiries and complaints regarding the services and programs available from Youth Services.
F. If you do not have time to respond to these complaints and inquiries without disrupting service or if the patron is not satisfied with your response, refer the patron to the Person-in-Charge/Branch or Department Manager.
G. It is better if these issues can be resolved within the Branch. Therefore, if the patron is not satisfied they should be encouraged to speak with the Person-in-Charge/Branch or Department Manager before referring the patron to the Branch Services Manager.
Library Pages, H. Refer all complaints and inquiries regarding library
Substitutes, policies,procedures, services, programs, etc. to the
Volunteers, Others Person-in-Charge/Branch or Department Manager.
Branch/Depart- I. All questions and complaints should be referred to and
ment Manager handled by the PIC/Branch or Department Manager prior to referring them to the Branch Services Manager.
J. If question/complaint is referred to Branch Services Manager, the PIC/Branch or Department Manager should complete and submit a "Service Inquiries and Complaints Report" to the Branch Services Manager.
Branch Services K. Handles inquiries and complaints that the PIC/Branch
Manager or Department Manager feels may require administrative intervention or action.
L. Update and file "Service Inquiries and Complaints Report;" forward copy to Branch/Department Manager.
3. INQUIRIES AND COMPLAINTS ABOUT SPECIFIC ITEMS IN THE LIBRARY'S COLLECTIONS
Staff Member A. Questions and complaints regarding selection policies or complaints about specific items in the collections should be referred immediately to the Person-in-Charge/Branch Manager.
Person-in-Charge/ B. If necessary, provide the patron with a copy of the
Branch Manager "Request for Review of Library Materials" form available at all circulation desks.
C. Ask the patron to complete and return the form to the Branch at their convenience. Inform patron the Branch Services Manager will follow-up on their concern.
Branch Manager D. When completed form is returned to Branch, forward it immediately to the Branch Services Manager. Alert Branch Services Manager via the telephone of the nature of the complaint.
Branch Services E. Upon notification and/or receipt of form, notify Library
Manager Director. Forward all pertinent information to Director.
Library Director F. Appoint committee, with Library Director serving as Chair, to study the complaint, re-evaluate the item or items addressed in the complaint, and prepare specific recommendations regarding the complaint.
G. Library Director will inform complainant of the committee’s findings, either by mail or by telephone.
H. If after receiving the decision of the Library Director the patron is not satisfied with the outcome, the Library Director will inform the patron that he/she may request the matter be included for discussion on the agenda of a regularly scheduled meeting of the JGRLS Board of Trustees. The patron will be informed of the time and place of this Board meeting and will be invited to attend.
Board of Trustees I. The decision of the JGRLS Board of Trustees is final.
4. CONFIDENTIALITY OF LIBRARY RECORDS
Access to published information and freedom to read are basic and necessary rights of all American citizens. Any library record containing information about a borrower or which would tend to identify a borrower with any library materials are considered confidential. Release of such information constitutes a violation of personal privacy which may tend to inhibit the right of access, the freedom to read, and the use of library resources.
Therefore, the Jackson-George Regional Library System adopts the following guidelines:
I. The Jackson-George Regional Library System prohibits access to or disclosure of information regarding or including:
A. Patrons’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, place of employment, other information, or confirmation that any particular person is or is not a registered borrower.
B. Circulation and borrower's records and their contents which would tend in any manner to identify any user with any library materials.
C. The number or nature of any questions asked by any patron.
D. The frequency or purpose of any lawful visit to library facilities.
II. All employees of the Jackson-George Regional Library System are directed to:
A. Abide by the letter and intent of the guidelines in both professional and personal relationships.
B. Maintain insofar as possible only those library records necessary to secure timely return of library materials and to secure statistical data necessary for evaluation of services.
C. Keep library records in such a way as to minimize access to information that would identify a particular user with particular materials.
D. Destroy as soon as possible after use all library records which would violate confidentiality guidelines if released.
III. Such records as must be maintained shall be released only pursuant to such process, order, or subpoena as may be authorized under the authority of, and pursuant to, federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or administrative discovery procedures or legislative investigatory power, and then only when the Regional Library’s legal counsel has determined that such process, order or subpoena is in proper form and shows good cause as determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Staff Member A. Explain the policy to the patron; provide patron with copy if necessary.
B. If patron is not satisfied, refer to Person-in-Charge/ Branch Manager.
Person-in-Charge/ C. Explain policy; provide patron with copy of policy if necessary.
D. If patron is not satisfied, refer him/her to Branch Services Manager, by providing him/her with the name and business phone number of Branch Services Manager or providing Branch Services Manager with the name and phone number of the patron.
Branch Services E. Contact patron and explain policy. No further action is necessary or required.
F. Complete "Service Inquiries and Complaints Report".
5. PATRON SUGGESTION BOX
In order to effectively meet our goals, the library must first determine the information and other needs of the community. This can be accomplished using a variety of techniques - user and non-user surveys and questionnaires, staff surveys, student surveys, community profiles, etc. Another useful source of patron information, particularly patron needs, problems, complaints, and attitudes, is the "patron suggestions box".
Branch Library A. A "patron suggestion box" will be located in all branch libraries in at least one convenient and highly visible location. Signs will be placed in one or more locations encouraging patrons to offer suggestions.
B. "Suggestion" forms will be provided by Headquarters. These forms should be located at several locations in the library, including on or adjacent to the circulation desk.
Staff C. Place blank forms adjacent to "box„ as needed.
Branch Manager D. The "suggestion box" should be emptied and reviewed by the Branch Manager at least once each week; respond to patron suggestions, as required.
E. Patron suggestions that may require decisions and/or action by Administration should be marked with a red X in the upper right corner of the form and forwarded to the Branch Services Manager. Suggestion forms forwarded to the Branch Services Manager should be signed by the Branch Manager.
Branch Services F. Review patron suggestion forms with appropriate
Manager personnel. Take necessary action and follow-up, as required.