Saturday, August 9, 2014

Never proposition your potential employer.

Sexual harassment in libraries has been a bit of a trending topic, ever since the American Library Association had its annual conference in Las Vegas.  Apparently attendees were not on their best behavior, which even included a speaker at the conference.  Another blogging librarian, Magpie Librarian, ran an online survey afterward to bring awareness to what a problem sexual and other forms of harassment are at conferences.  Check out her results.  The stories are interesting.

I was not at the conference.  But that doesn't mean I cannot contribute to the online discussion of how librarians get harassed while on the job.

A little over a month into my current job as director of a small-town library, my evening/weekend circulation clerk resigned.  Therefore, the job had to be posted, and applications started pouring in.

One day, I helped an older man print off some PDF forms from his email.  (This is an extremely routine thing, ever since emails started offering previews - which you cannot actually print from - of documents within the email screen.  Whoever designed the email clients to do that, be it Gmail or Yahoo or whatever - that was an incredibly bad idea.  It is the bane of library staff everywhere.)  Afterward, we were making small talk.  As is pretty typical, he asked about my background in libraries.  It came up that he had been part of his high school's library club way back in the day, and he helped the school librarian by shelving books.  I asked if he would be interested in applying for our opening, and when he showed interest, I handed him an application.  No big deal.

Until the next day.

He came back to the library, application in hand.  I was going to direct him to hand it in next door, at the billing office, when he started talking.
"I am going to hand this in, but if you interview me, I have to be able to ask you out."  Or something to that effect.
I leaned back, away from him, and said, "I have a boyfriend."
That did not dissuade him.  In fact, he continued on, that my boyfriend didn't have to know.
At one point, he even touched my left hand and made a comment about my lack of rings, and that I was still available.
I shot back, "Give me a month."
"Blues Fest?"
"No, Dragon Con in Atlanta."
(I really hope we can find something small, round, and shiny at the vendors there.  Heh.)

Obviously, I will not be interviewing this man.  There are plenty of other applicants, including one with actual library employment experience.


  1. Wow! That is a crazy story! I guess I am lucky that I work in a school library so that I don't have to deal with that. Of course I'm not that young anymore, and so don't have to worry about that anywhere. Crazy that this is an issue. Interesting about the ALA convention. Wonder if it had anything to do with being held in Vegas, Sin City, what happens there stays there? Great post!

    1. Thank you. School librarians are not immune, however; it's possible to get hit on by a parent.

  2. Woah. Didn't really notice that going on. I actually volunteer at the library a lot and it seems fine from where I live. But maybe there's a lot of people at the library on the weekends.

    1. Keep an eye on the computer area. You might find creeps hanging near teens using the computers, or worse, viewing undesirable online content.

  3. What would possess a person?

    1. Apparently, he has tried asking out other young women at the library, though never one at the desk.

  4. The notion that because you are not engaged or married, you are "available" is appalling. Your lack of interest makes you unavailable. I'm so sorry you had to deal with this.

  5. When kindness or politeness or helpfulness is taken as an invitation to be creepy, it's really disheartening. And also creepy. Sorry you went through that.