From Illinois Leaks:
During the American Library Association’s (ALA) latest conference (held in Chicago in June 2017), two Waukegan Public Library employees delivered a standing-room-only presentation on sexual harassment experienced regularly by public librarians.
Amanda Civitello (Waukegan’s Marketing and Communications Manager) and Katie McLain (Reference Assistant) opened their remarks to the packed room with the story of what it’s like to be a public librarian and having to tell friends and family about working in a sexually hostile work environment (when no one in America, under the EEOC Act, has to suffer like that).
Civitello talked about being out to dinner with friends and sharing stories about male library patrons sexually harassing her and feeling like she was required to take that abuse as part of her job. Her friends — all people employed at private companies or in other lines of work besides librarianship — were gobsmacked that Civitello felt that she had no recourse and had to just put up with sexual harassment on the job because it was coming from the public. “Haven’t you heard of the EEOC? You don’t have to take that abuse, Amanda,” she reported her friends repeating over and over again. But the two presenters confronted the ugly truth about public libraries: for whatever reason, employees are still being told by management or otherwise pressured to feel that they do have to take that abuse or lose their jobs.
. . . .
The overwhelmingly positive response that Amanda Civitello and Katie McLain received for their presentation was followed by an extended question and comment session that could have run all night but was limited for time. Dozens of library employees from around Illinois and across the nation jockeyed for time at the microphone to tell their horror stories about encountering sexual harassment from library patrons…and often having to later deal with Baby Boomer library management that wanted to downplay the events, hide them from the record, and tell the employees that taking such abuse is just part of their jobs. In addition to library employees being made to feel uncomfortable by male patrons openly viewing pornography on library computers (a problem that plagued Orland Park for many years), the female employees told stories about being stalked by members of the public who would continuously ask them out on dates or comment suggestively on their appearance and make them feel unsafe in the workplace by following them around the stacks or lurking around corners. Some male library employees also reported instances of themselves (or other male coworkers) being stalked and sexually harassed by members of the public as well.
Link to the rest at Illinois Leaks and thanks to Lucy for the tip.