Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version

April 1981


Published in Illinois Libraries 63:4 (April 1981), pp. 343-351. Published by the Illinois State Library, Springfield, Illinois 62756. Copyright (c) 1981 J. Kirk Brashear, James J. Maloney, and Judellen Thornton-Jaringe.


The security of library collections and property has long been a matter of serious concern to librarians, and much has been written about the protection of library property from vandalism and theft. This is quite understandable given the pressure of decreasing budgets, rising costs, and the difficulty of obtaining replacement copies. Little serious attention, however, has been devoted to another kind of library security problem: the need to protect the rights and safety of people, both staff members and library users, against what are loosely referred to as "problem patrons."

Several articles have appeared in recent library literature concerning the problem patron. However, the approach of these articles has largely been anecdotal, and of little scientific value to the library profession. Because we believed that systematic research into the topic of problem patrons was necessary before a worthwhile discussion of the issues could take place, we decided to undertake this survey. Although it is not intended to be definitive, we believe that the survey is a good start.