Excitement on the night shift

Sorry I haven't been posting much. I am hopefully hitting a slower period at work so I'll be able to put up some thoughts about projects we're working on here to find out what you all think.

I'm working the evening shift tonight as I usually do on Thursdays. Tomorrow is a campus holiday so not much is going on. My main concern was staying awake until a student worker came over to me and said, "There's a man at the circ desk who says he needs to be committed. What should I do?"

What indeed? This is a new one for me and of course there are no supervisors in the building. The man came over to the ref desk and he was pretty agitated. I asked him if he would like us to call campus security over to talk to him and he said yes. I told him we'd give them a call and they'd be here in a few minutes, and he could have a seat with me at the desk, or over in our reading area, or just wait in the lobby. He distractedly wandered off while the worker called security. The poor guy finally settled in one of our comfy chairs and I kept an eye on him until the cops showed up. He didn't seem like he was a danger to anyone but I suppose you never know.

Very strange evening. I guess that's what I get for thinking things were too slow!


What a remarkably appropriate way to deal with the situation. Having been a registered nurse, a police officer (albeit for only 9 months) and of course a librarian I can only hope I would have done exactly as you did.

You conducted an appropriate reference interview, ascertained that the assistance the patron needed was outside the scope of the library's mission and selected the most appropriate immediately available resource to address the patron's concern.

Law enforcement, while not the ones to provide acute care for the patron (or patient) are trained to deal with mental health emergencies and can facilitate the easy transition to care. Campus security must have some type of interlocal agreement with the local police and were the most appropriate resource to which to turn.

It speaks well of the profession that the distraught patron felt comfortable coming to the library to ask for help. The profession virtually cries out with pride that you involved the patient in his healthcare decisions by asking if he wished you to involve security to assist him in his entry into the emergency mental health system. It is commendable that you treated the patron as you would any other allowing him choices as to wait with you or elsewhere. An important precept of psychiatric nursing care is to remember that the patient is a member of society just like us and you demonstrated that through your compassion.

You performed admirably as a librarian. A patron presented with a problem and you directed him to appropriate resources to address his problem. Telling him that the library was not an appropriate venue to address his problem as you demonstrated through your actions was obviously anathema to you although many others would have done so.

More importantly you acted admirably as a human being. You saw a person in need and helped them to the best of your abilities. However, most important you acted with compassion and care, characteristics unfortunately not all of us possess; you helped someone in crisis and in doing so most assuredly saved a life. Studies have shown that the initial contact for someone in dire psychological straits is often the only contact and if rebuffed they may fail to make another contact before resorting to other more drastic and often disastrous methods of help-seeking.

While it may see to be just a bit of excitement on the late shift you have done well as a representative of your profession, your school, and all humanity.

Should we all be as able.

aw, you made me blush! Thanks for your kind words.

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