Administrative and Management Skills

ALSC Asks:

Many management and leadership decisions with patrons are judgement calls based on ones understanding of their library policy. We have a scenario for you to consider:

A solo parent comes into the children’s area of the library with a teenager, a toddler, and an infant to enjoy a Summer Reading Puppet show. Upon arrival the teenager immediately leaves their family in the children’s area to hang out with  friends in the teen area. Once the puppet show begins the toddler starts screaming, laughing, and trying to climb on stage to touch the puppets. The parent, with their hands full holding the infant, apologizes for the interruption and pulls the toddler off the stage. The toddler continues to scream, laugh and point at the stage while the performance resumes. After 15 minutes the puppeteer asks the parent to quiet the toddler, because they are disrupting the show. The parent explains the toddler has autism and is non-verbal, and does not have the ability to be quiet when they are excited. The parent also states that the child is enjoying the show, now out of reach of the stage, and the show can continue. The puppeteer replies that the show is not appropriate for the child due to their inability to be quiet, and asks the parent to leave.
Understanding your library policy and the spirit in which it was written, how would you deal with this scenario?

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, III. Programming Skills, V. Outreach and Advocacy, and VI. Administrative and Management Skills.

One comment

  1. Abilene K Castillo

    The Puppeteer should have been more understanding of the issue after the mom mentioned that the child has autism and is non-verbal. But just like any other program, there are rules. Before the program starts, I would have told the puppeteer that getting the right ages for a program is not always a guarantee so they have to be mindful of that. Sometimes you get kids of the right age that comes with their younger siblings. I would tell the parent that she can take the child just outside the program room until they calm down and then she can go back into the room for the program.

    The right age group for the program should have been specified on the flyers and online so there is no confusion. When working with outside performers, flexibility is key on their part because “Libraries are for Everyone” like my NYPL advocacy t-shirt says.

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