No Tolerance Policy Starting Monday, Dec 4

Starting Monday, we are instituting a no tolerance policy for three behaviors: cussing, roughhousing and yelling in the library and on library property.

We have seen an escalation of these behaviors, especially by teens, in the past few weeks and they have been contributing to more serious and potentially dangerous activities like fighting.  We believe that disagreements are starting at Topeka High School and then are spilling over to the library when teens come here after school.

My priority is always the safety and security of our employees and our customers and to make sure that the Library is a welcoming and pleasant place to visit. We will do everything that is necessary to ensure that.

With that in mind, we are posting signs in The Edge and in David J.’s Place today and staff in those areas will be informing visitors of these rules.

The signs also say what is expected of everyone at the library: BE RESPECTFUL. The signs are now posted and staff working in those areas should let teens and others know that is the expectation.

We are all responsible for enforcing these rules. 

I am asking that you keep your eyes and ears open and if you observe these behaviors over the weekend, to tell the people engaging in them to stop immediately or they will be asked to leave for the day. Beginning Monday if the behavior occurs, we will ask them to leave – period. There will be no second chances.

Also, remember that we do have a Customer Conduct Policy.  It’s available on our website. These are not new rules; they are included in that policy.

These are the relevant sections of our policy:

Be respectful of others. 

  • Do not harass or threaten another person. This includes but is not limited to physical, sexual or verbal abuse; using “fighting words”;throwing things; soliciting, selling or campaigning; interfering with the free passage of others.
  • Do not engage in disorderly or disruptive behavior. This includes but is not limited to yelling, loud cell phone usage or playing audio equipment loudly; sleeping or loitering; being under the influence of drugs or alcohol; roughhousing; poor personal hygiene; bringing animals into the library with the exception of service animals or animals used in library sponsored programming.

 If you have questions or concerns over the weekend, please contact:

  • Marie Pyko                                          or
  • MIC for Friday: Thad Hartman
  • MIC for Saturday: John Kugler
  • MIC for Sunday: Diana Friend

If you need assistance, remember you may always contact the Manager in Charge or Security at Extension 4500.

Thank you, Gina

 Gina J. Millsap

Chief Executive Officer


4 thoughts on “No Tolerance Policy Starting Monday, Dec 4

  1. Lissa Staley on said:

    For frontline staff who hear and overhear cussing constantly in the library, this raises many questions.

    Of course, we are paying attention this weekend to these situations and figuring out how to address them using these guidelines. Someone this morning walked by the new service point by the walkthrough and said “Man, that breakfast food is b***s***. ” The comment was to a friend, but audible to those around including staff.

    Starting Monday, is this the kind of example that this new guidelines applies to, or not?
    Do we have a list of cuss words that we are using as a source?
    Does the location or age of the person cussing affect how we enforce this?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Gina Millsap on said:

    Thanks for your question, Lissa. First, I urge all staff to read the Customer Conduct Policy to help you interpret how to handle the instances you describe.

    Our intent with the no tolerance policy is to de-escalate behavior that is leading to fighting or that is challenging the authority of any staff member to keep order in the library.

    If anyone of any age is yelling, roughhousing or cussing with the intent of instigating conflict with another person or challenging the authority of an employee, that is when we invoke the new procedure.

    This doesn’t mean that we don’t ask anyone of any age to use a quieter voice regardless of what they are saying or if, for instance, they’re on a cell phone. These behaviors are also included in the policy.

    In the incident you describe it sounds as if the person was rude, but was his intent to instigate a conflict with another person or verbal abuse of another person, i.e. were they “fighting words?”

    At this time, I don’t intend to issue a list of cuss words. The intent of the verbal assault is just as important as the actual words. For instance, if a person uses a racial slur to verbally assault someone or initiate a fight, I would expect to eject that person immediately.

    I also want to be careful that we don’t violate the First Amendment. We do have the right to keep order in the library and to implement policy approve by our Board of Trustees. All staff should evaluate the behavior and situation to determine if:
    1. The behavior is in violation of the Customer Conduct Policy
    2. The intent is to verbally assault another person
    3. The intent is to instigate a fight or respond to provocation to fight, either verbal or physical.
    4. The intent is to challenge the authority of an employee or threaten an employee as s/he is enforcing appropriate behavior per the Customer Conduct Policy.

    I understand there is a level of uncertainty about this. If any staff member is unsure about whether to invoke the no tolerance procedure, please consult with a manager, the MIC or Security. The one thing we may not do is ignore behavior like this. It is not going away and the way we have been handling it is not working. We will back you up if you make a determination. If it turns out that it was the wrong call, we’ll discuss it, deal with the consequences, learn from the experience and move on.

    I also want to be sure that we document any instances in which we invoke this new procedure so that we can review them for consistency and make sure we are following policy. Thanks again for you question. GM

  3. Sherry Best on said:

    In the past, we have given one or two (sometimes more, by multiple staff) warnings, then called Security to make the formal expulsion. Do we now tell people to leave, or do we still call Security to tell them to leave? Should we notify Security or record names? I know they have kept records on some expulsions for people who have repeatedly violated policy. Do we have any recourse if we tell someone to leave and they come back?

  4. Gina Millsap on said:

    Thanks for your question, Sherry.

    In response to your questions:
    1. Do we now tell people to leave, or do we still call Security to tell them to leave?
    Yes, you should tell them to leave and also ask for Security’s assistance in escorting the person from the library’s premises.

    2. Should we notify Security or record names?
    It is Security’s and/or the Manager In Charge’s responsibility to get the names of individuals, to call parents or guardians if necessary and to submit an incident report that includes the identity of the individual who is in violation of the Customer Conduct Policy.

    3. Do we have any recourse if we tell someone to leave and they come back?
    Yes, Security may ask them to leave immediately and increase the length of time for which they are banned from library premises. Security may also notify one of our officers who may address it as a trespassing incident.

    If anyone recognizes someone who has been banned from the library, a staff member’s responsibility is to notify Security immediately that we have a “repeat offender” on the premises. Security will escort the person from library premises and take the appropriate actions.