A Trauma-Informed Framework for Supporting Patrons: The PLA Workbook of Best Practices—eEditions PDF e-book

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  • About the authors
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Offering practical guidance and support, this workbook will spark curiosity and reflection on how everyday library interactions intersect with trauma and adversity.  

Whether it’s navigating a crisis or witnessing a community member struggling with tough times, coming face to face with trauma and adversity can be uncomfortable. But in striving to learn more about challenging behaviors, and how we can better interact with library patrons and our coworkers, we can come to see that people are complex and not simply “problems.” This workbook from the PLA Social Worker Task Force (SWTF) provides a collection of powerful tools to add to your customer service toolbox. It’s filled with prompts, exercises, and best practices that shed light on how trauma can affect people, helping you build confidence in your ability to support your library’s patrons. You will

  • delve into what trauma is and how it impacts library work; 
  • be introduced to a framework for utilizing a trauma-informed lens in your interactions; 
  • practice exercises to spur personal reflection on common concerns bound up with library work and the policies relating to these issues; and 
  • gain hand-on tools and techniques, including strategies for de-escalation and guidance on the impacts of involving law-enforcement and banning patrons.

You will also explore various scenarios which provide the opportunity to integrate what you’ve learned and practice responding through a trauma-informed lens, including 

  • Mental Health Challenges
  • Sleeping at the Library
  • Strong Personal Odor
  • Personal Belongings
  • Suspected Intoxication/Under the Influence
  • Substance Use
  • Threatening Verbal and Nonverbal Behavior
  • Unsheltered Teens
  • Adult Self-Neglect
  • Child Abuse or Assault
  • Solicitation or Panhandling
  • Stealing
  • Child Unattended After Closing

Introduction: No Easy Answers

Part I        Laying the Groundwork
Chapter 1    What Is Trauma? 
Chapter 2    Navigating Challenging Behavior
Chapter 3    Tools and Techniques

Part II        Strategies and Scenarios
Scenario 1    Mental Health Challenges
Scenario 2    Sleeping at the Library
Scenario 3    Strong Personal Odor
Scenario 4    Personal Belongings
Scenario 5    Suspected Intoxication, Under the Influence
Scenario 6    Substance Use
Scenario 7    Threatening Verbal and Nonverbal Behavior
Scenario 8    Unsheltered Teens
Scenario 9    Adult Self-Neglect
Scenario 10    Child Abuse or Assault
Scenario 11    Solicitation or Panhandling
Scenario 12    Stealing 
Scenario 13    Child Unattended after Closing 

Part III    Putting It All Together
Exercise 1    Now It Is Your Turn
Exercise 2    Begin Anyway
Exercise 3    Self-Care Assessment
Exercise 4    Self-Care Maintenance
Exercise 5    Emergency Self-Care
Exercise 6    When Bad Things Happen
Exercise 7    Using Your Knowledge for Justice and Change
Exercise 8    Expand Your Knowledge

Conclusion: The End Is Just the Beginning
About the Principal Writer and Advisor and the Contributors

The Public Library Association Social Worker Task Force

The Public Library Association Social Worker Task Force develops and recommends a strategic and coordinated approach for PLA related to how public libraries address the social service needs of customers.

Public Library Association (PLA)

The Public Library Association (PLA) is a division of the American Library Association. PLA’s core purpose is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve. Its mission is to enhance the development and effectiveness of public library staff and public library services.

”Advice is clear and practical. Situations range from mental health issues and child abuse to substance use and stealing. The final section focuses on library staff self care, noting that there are no easy answers or pat solutions—but that the work is important ... This workbook offers a timely, useful guide to get staff in all kinds of libraries started in using a trauma-informed approach to deal with challenging behaviors.”
— Booklist