Thursday, 13 June 2013
Discretion: how far is too far?
While I agree in theory with this view, sometimes it doesn't work in a library's favour. For example, if some librarians are extremely lenient with writing off overdue fees and others fastidiously stick to the rule book what does that say about the library? That it doesn't have clear rules and policies? That it is prepared to be flexible in order to please patrons? That a bit of give and take is acceptable? My personal solution to problems like a large amount of overdue fees that a patron is questioning is to halve them ( if reasonable). That way, the patron (theoretically) goes away happy and the library has reinforced their overdue books policy while also showing some goodwill towards the patron.
I, for one, am all for the freedom to make professional decisions whilst at the circulation desk but I also like to know where the boundaries are. I think if we give free reign of discretion as a quick 'fix it' solution it can do the library a disservice. Patrons may not know where they stand and would also have the right to question why some librarians follow the rules to the letter and why some seem to disregard the rules altogether. Also, if you are regularly discussing issues like this, maybe some policy changes need to happen. I think it's important for all staff to be aware of what the preferred policy is for any tricky situations, but also to feel confident that they can use their own judgement if necessary.
What are your thoughts on discretion? I'd love to hear them/discuss any tricky situations you've had- just leave a comment here or send me a tweet @JuliadeRuiter