chrystie, Library Management, Next WJ, Online Learning

Featured Course: Managing Difficult Patrons with Confidence!

By chrystie | September 20th, 2008 | 2 Comments

Along with our new platform, WebJunction has a new course catalog with around 600 new courses to choose from. In order to help you pull a few needles out of that haystack, we feature one course that we’ve heard is especially useful or might meet an important need for library staff. Our featured course this week was managing difficult patrons with confidence. (And anyone who has worked in a public library probably knows what we mean by “difficult”. It’s not necessarily that the patrons themselves are difficult. It’s that managing some behaviors can be.)

Full course details are listed below. As always, let us know if you’ve taken the course by leaving a comment or tag. If there are other courses you’d like to see at WebJunction, let us know that as well!

Happy learning…


Dealing with difficult patrons is a never-ending topic among library staff, especially those working in public libraries. Every staff member dreads having to deal with a problem patron, but these occurrences in libraries are unavoidable. In reality, the number of problem patron situations is not great, but because they are challenging and often emotionally charged, they loom large in our overall experiences. While never fun, there is a way to prepare staff to handle problem patrons effectively and with confidence. This course is intended to provide each participant with a basic tool-kit that can be applied to manage a variety of difficult patron situations.


After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Apply a variety of communication techniques to positively manage various problem patron situations
  • Apply a number of coping techniques to be able to maintain composure in stressful problem patron situations
  • Determine when the problem patron cannot be satisfied and to whom and how to communicate this
  • Decide when to call for security or the police
  • Assist with reviewing, revising and/or creating library policies that address a variety of problem patron situations e.g. patron-conduct policy, unattended children policy, etc.


The course addresses these issues and more in a web-based course designed to take about 1 1/2 hours to complete. The course is approved for certification under the Western Council of State Libraries. The instructor will not meet with the class in person. This course is worth 3 contact hours and 1.5 CEU credits for the Core Competency areas of Policies and Procedures.