This research investigates the extent to which violent and aggressive behaviour by
library users is a recognised problem in public libraries, and seeks to identify preventive
measures to reduce the problem and improve the working environment for staff. Public
libraries in four counties were surveyed, questionnaires being completed by various
types of library staff.
A review of the relevant literature identifies the issues surrounding violence in the
workplace and analyses violent behaviour in libraries and the various types of problem
The results indicate that public libraries suffer from a wide range of problem users.
Serious incidents which involve physical assault are rare, although verbal abuse is
widespread and is generally tolerated by staff who regard it as 'part of the job'.
The role of the Library Charter and the concept of customer care as a means of
reducing aggressive situations in libraries are discussed. Although customer care is
largely regarded as sufficient training for reducing aggression in customers, many staff
would prefer specific training for dealing with difficult situations, as well as the
provision of security cameras and other deterrents. The use of personal alarms was
also suggested as a means of summoning help once a situation became potentially
violent or when an incident actually occurred.
A Masters Dissertation, submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Arts degree of Loughborough University