What are boundaries? Boundaries define functional and effective relationships between people. Librarians need to learn how to recognize their own boundaries before those boundaries are crossed, so they can see when a patron is approaching the limits of the boundaries and deal with the issue before it becomes too complicated.
There are boundaries at play in every “helping profession” such as healthcare workers, teachers,and social workers. Librarians are also in a helping profession. Other helping professionals have industry research and standards that help keep their relationships positive but not over-or-inappropriately involved. Librarians need to define those boundaries for their own profession.
What are some patron behaviors that require boundaries in the library?
- Unwanted advances
- Mismatched expectations
- Disruptive behavior
- and many more – you can’t list them all, so you need to know how you will react when they’re crossed.
Don’t forget about safety – sometimes setting boundaries doesn’t go well. Make sure your colleagues know what you were about to do, bring a buddy with you, and don’t be afraid to walk away from situation that’s going badly!