Institute for Educational Development

Live Online
7:00 am – 1:30 pm

May 3, 2023

$279.00 per person

PUBLIC LIBRARIES: Working Effectively with Difficult People (Or Those Just Having a Bad Day)

NEW Seminar Presented By
Crystal Trice

Award-Winning Public Librarian and National Presenter

Specifically Designed for Anyone Working in Public Libraries: Librarians, Library Assistants, Circulation Staff, Public Services Staff, Children’s and Adult Services Staff, Volunteer Coordinators, Branch Managers, Library Supervisors, Library Managers, Library Directors, and more

  • Powerful, proven techniques to successfully deal with difficult or disruptive patrons
  • Authentic communication strategies to help you work more effectively with challenging people and behaviors
  • Effective tips for de-escalating tense conversations in the moment
  • Successful methods to help keep your cool during materials or programming challenges and patron complaints

Practical Strategies

It’s no secret that today’s public library can be a demanding environment. Some patrons are stressed or experiencing different types of challenges, and they can behave in ways that are not appropriate for a public space. Your coworkers are sometimes stressed, too, and may unknowingly be taking it out on you! How can library staff successfully deal with difficult patrons and coworkers? How can we serve our community well, including even our most challenging patrons, helping them f ind what they need? This outstanding seminar is designed to offer public library staff powerful tools and techniques to deal with the most challenging patrons. Exceptional public librarian and national presenter CRYSTAL TRICE will share proven ideas, techniques and strategies for working effectively with difficult people in a public library environment. Her practical examples and warm humor will excite and motivate you to take a fresh look at how you work with everyone at your library, especially those who are challenging. You’ll also receive an extensive digital resource handbook filled with dozens of innovative and practical ideas you can incorporate immediately.

Ten Key Benefits of Attending

  1. Expand Your Repertoire of Tools for Working Successfully with Difficult People in Public Libraries
    Discover highly effective, proven strategies for working with difficult people … From patrons just having a bad day to truly challenging behaviors, you’ll gain a wealth of practical ideas you can use with difficult patrons and coworkers
  2. Increase Your Effectiveness in Successfully Dealing with Challenging Behaviors as They Happen
    Specific methods to deal with problems and challenges as they happen … Ideas to help you avoid power struggles and de-escalate negative situations
  3. Improve Your Ability to Maintain Emotional Control in Tense Situations
    Learn practical ways to handle the most difficult disruptions and challenges without losing control of your emotions
  4. Essential Self-Care Practices for Library Staff Working with Challenging People
    Gain a variety of important self-care practices to help avoid developing secondary stress symptoms … Explore specific ideas to help you successfully decompress after challenging situations
  5. Decrease Your Frustration When Dealing with Difficult Library Patrons
    Utilize key strategies to manage your own frustrations, stress, and reactions so you can successfully deal with disruptive behavior while maintaining your sense of professionalism
  6. Enhance Your Communication Skills in the Face of Challenging Situations
    Develop practical techniques that will strengthen your communication skills and confidence when faced with difficult patron behaviors or challenging coworkers
  7. Minimize Your Stress and Maximize Positive Outcomes
    Discover purposeful, clear facilitation skills you can use to increase the success of meetings … Gain practical tips for working successfully with naysayers and oversharers to create positive outcomes, even during tough conversations
  8. Identify Best Practices for Working with Patrons with Special Needs
    Get practical support for working successfully with patrons experiencing homelessness or having mental health challenges
  9. Build a Practical and Inclusive Patron Behavior Policy
    Address patron behavior in equitable ways, while supporting yourself and other library staff in challenging patron interactions
  10. Receive an Extensive Digital Resource Handbook
    You will receive an extensive digital resource handbook, specifically designed for this seminar and filled with practical methods, ideas and techniques to use when dealing with difficult patrons and coworkers

Specific Topics

Here's what you'll learn:
  • Specific techniques to use when dealing with disruptions or challenges in the public library
  • Effective ways to stay emotionally neutral while working with difficult or angry patrons or coworkers
  • Down-to-earth, practical methods to effectively communicate with the most challenging patrons
  • Ways to discover, preserve, and increase your joy of working with the public, especially those who cause disruptions or present challenges
  • How to recognize and deal with problems before they start and effectively deal with them when they do occur
  • Tips for maintaining your enthusiasm, sanity, and sense of humor while working with the public
  • Numerous proven approaches to defuse disruptive and angry behavior
  • Skills to work better with patrons experiencing challenges like homelessness or mental health issues
  • Key strategies to successfully cope with disruptive behavior while maintaining your sense of professionalism
  • Specific ideas to help you successfully decompress after difficult conversations through self-care
  • Facilitation skills to help deal with coworkers who bring a negative tone to meetings

A Message from Your Seminar Leader

Dear Colleague:

Take a moment to think about how many human interactions you have in a typical work week. In a busy public library, it can easily add up to 500 or even 1,000 interactions each week! The vast majority of those interactions with patrons and coworkers are routine, or even positive, like the patron who takes time to tell you how much they appreciate attending story time, picking up their holds, or discovering a new author to enjoy.

And then there’s that one experience that you can’t stop thinking about. You invent different scenarios and potential responses all the way home from work. Your blood pressure is elevated every time it crosses your mind. You wake up at 3:00 a.m. thinking about it. It could be the patron who yelled at you for something you didn’t do. Or the coworker who inexplicably has started ignoring you. Or the patron or coworker who has a different complaint every time they see you.

In these rarer – but still fairly common situations – our flight-or-fight nature kicks in, causing us to question our abilities to handle these moments successfully. The good news is that I can help! In this seminar I will present a wealth of practical, effective strategies and tools to help you the very next time a difficult patron or colleague crosses your path.

I’m excited to share the very best practices I have found to be effective in my years of working with difficult people in public libraries. Join me as we unpack helpful, practical ideas that you can use right away as we learn together in this interactive and fast-paced workshop.


P.S. I’ve designed this seminar to give you practical, ready-to-use strategies that will help make your job less stressful as you work more successfully with difficult people!

Who Should Attend

Anyone Working in Public Libraries: Librarians, Library Assistants, Circulation Staff, Public Services Staff, Children’s and Adult Services Staff, Volunteer Coordinators, Branch Managers, Library Supervisors, Library Managers, Library Directors, and more

Special Benefits of Attending

  1. Extensive Resource Handbook
    You will receive an extensive digital resource handbook specifically designed for this seminar. Included in the handbook are:
    • Ready-to-use strategies for use with all patrons, especially the most difficult
    • Highly effective de-escalation strategies to minimize confrontations and maintain everyone’s dignity and respect
    • Effective techniques to avoid power struggles
    • Communication tips for working with people who push your buttons
    • Ideas to help you maintain emotional control and decompress through self-care
    • Tips for building patron behavior policies that work
  2. Meet and Share
    This seminar provides a wonderful opportunity for participants to share ideas with other public libraries staff interested in working successfully with difficult people.
  3. Consultation Available
    Crystal Trice will be available at the seminar for consultation regarding your questions and the unique needs of your own public library.
  4. Semester Credit Option:
    UMASS Logo Graduate level professional development credit is available with an additional fee and completion of follow up practicum activities. Details for direct enrollment with University of Massachusetts Global, a nonprofit affiliate of the University of Massachusetts, will be available at the seminar.
  5. Meet Inservice Requirements:
    At the end of the program, each attendee will receive a certificate of participation that may be used to verify hours of participation in meeting continuing education requirements.