REAL – Resource for Equitable Access to Libraries eLearning

Copyright State Library of Victoria 2014

The REAL eLearning modules are published in Flash. This is an accessible text only version of the module content for people who cannot access Flash. This module contains a branching scenario in which you choose the outcome of the story. 

After each scene you will be presented with options for what to do next. Click on the hyperlink make a selection for the next action in the story.Please note this is not a linear story and it will only make sense by using the hyperlinks to navigate thought it.


A tale of two patrons module.

Scene One.

It’s a regular day at the local library. One patron reads quietly in an easy chair. Another patron is using a computer. Another patron peruses magazines. The librarian is res-shelving books. The young man at the computer hums to himself, and giggles. He seems very into the game he is playing on the computer. His soft murmurings to himself start to grow a bit louder. He slaps the table in excitement. The noise startles some of the other patrons. The young man continues to intermittentanlt slap the table and laugh to himself. The woman perusing magazines looks up at him momentarily, but then continues to look at the magazines non-plussed. The man reading in the chair is more annoyed. He stares at the young man and starts to clear his throat to get the young man’s attention. The young man seems to not notice, slapping the table again and talking to himself.

“Do you mind keeping it down?”, the older man reading calls out to the younger man at the computer.

The young man seems not to hear him or pay any mind. He continues to hum, slap the table, and laugh to himself.

“Do you mind keeping it down!?” the older patron says again, louder, more agitated than before. The woman looking at magazines and the librarian have both noticed the noise levels of the young man and the older man now.

Options.

Wait for someone to ask for assistance.

Ask the young man to be quieter.

Ask the older man if you can assist him.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.




Scene Two.

The librarian decides to wait until someone asks her to intervene.

“Can you keep it down son?” the older patron, growing exasperated, yells at the younger man. The woman perusing magazines confronts the older man.

“Excuse me do you mind, he has a right to be here,” she angrily defends the young man. “ If you have a problem why don’t you just move to another place?”

“I am trying to read and he is making a lot of noise,” the man snaps back.

“He’s doing well now and it would be appreciated if you could show some compassion,” the woman pleads but the man ignores her. He gets up and approaches the librarian.

“Can you do something about that?” he asked her, pointing at the noisy young man.

Options.

Ask the young man what game he is playing.

Ask the young man to be quieter.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.




Scene Three.

The librarian approaches the young man from behind. She leans over him to discreetly speak to him.

“I’m so sorry sir, but,” she starts, but the young man suddenly escalates.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” he screams as he throws his hands up and covers his face and head. “ LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA” he yells as he waves his hands about.

The startled librarian jumps back and looks confused. She is not sure what to do.

Options.

Just leave the young man alone.

Offer the older patron a different seat.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.




Scene Four.

The librarian approaches the irritated man.

“Sorry sir, can I help you with something?”

The man angrily points at the young man at the computer. “Can you do something about that? I am trying to read!”

Options.

Offer the older man a quieter seat.

Ask the young man to be quieter.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.





Scene Five.

Sorry sir, can I off you a chair in the quiet reading space?” the librarian suggests.

“I’m trying to read, can you do something about that?” the older man insists again.

The librarian replies empathically,” Yes I know but this is the communal area. We have quiet reading spaces if you’d like to come. Just follow me.”

Begrudging, the older man stands from his chair and follows the librarian to the quiet reading area.

“Shouldn’t let people like that in the library,” he mutters as they walk away.

Caption: The older man reading a magazine has more ability to adjust his behaviour than the young man at the computer. The librarian offered him a reasonable alternative and explained the library's policies about the communal areas. A good outcome but this situation could have ended differently if she made different choices.

Options.

Have another go.

Continue.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.





Scene Six.

The librarian gently approaches the young man, and sits in a chair at the computer table beside him. The young man is engrossed in his game.

“Hey now I love that game,” the librarian comments.

“Yes,” the young man replies without looking away from the computer

“Do you love that game?” the librarian asks, engaging him further.

“Yes,” the young man replies again.

“Are you with anyone today mate?” the librarian inquires.

“Mum!!!” the young man excitedly replies. He begins to repeat himself endlessly as if singing, “ mum, mum, mum, mum, mum, mum, mum, mum….”

Slightly confused, the librarian starts to look around the room.

Options.

Hope someone comes to the rescue.

Approach patrons to ask if they are his mother.

Offer the older man a different place to sit.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.





Scene Seven.

The librarian quickly retreats back to the shelves, unsure how to handle the situation.

The woman from the magazine racks approaches her.

“I’m the boy’s mother; if there’s a problem can I help?” the woman offers.

Options.

Ask the mother to quiet her son.

Ask the mother how you can help.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.





Scene Eight.

The young man continues to repeat himself. “ Mum, mum, mum, mum, mum, mum, mum, mum.”

The woman who has been perusing magazines nearby approaches and gently speaks to the young man, “Max, you’re doing really well.”

The mother gestures to the librarian to move away from Max so they can talk out of earshot.

“My son has autism”, the mother explains, “so sometimes he reacts a little strangely around people, so he’s a little uncomfortable with strangers, but he’s managing really well; we’re very appreciative of this public space.”

The librarian is relieved to now have a better understanding of the situation. “”Thank you,” she replies to the mother

Caption: The librarian approached the young man in a positive and upbeat way, respected his personal space, and used simple and direct questions to communicate with him. While his excited echolalia confused and possibly startled her, the mother saw the librarian was doing her best. The mother deliberately pulled the librarian away from her son to talk privately with her so her son did not feel they were talking about him or being critical. People with autism often are very good at understanding receptive communication even if they appear to not be listening or understanding.

A different choice could have had a very different outcome however.

Options.

Have another go.

Continue.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.




Scene Nine.

The young man continues to repeat himself. “Mum, mum, mum, mum, mum, mum, mum, mum..”

The librarian notices the woman at the magazine racks watching them, and she takes a gamble she is related to the young man. The librarian approaches the woman.

“Hi there, sorry are you his mother?”

Yes I am,” the woman replies.

Options.

Ask the mother to quiet her son.

Ask the mother how you can help.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.






Scene Ten.

The young man continues to make nonsensical and excited noises.

Flustered, the librarian retreats and turns to the older man reading.

“S..ss… Sorry sir, can I offer you a quiet area in the library?” she fumbles.

The man looks at her with derision, having watched her attempt to engage with the noisy young man. “You’re not much good at this are you?” he snaps. “There’s no point really. Thanks very much.” He gets up and abruptly walks out the library. The librarian helplessly looks after him.

Caption: An unhappy customer! While we can't please all the people all the time, maybe a different choice by the librarian could have resulted in a different outcome.

Option.

Have another go.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.






Scene Eleven.

Can you quieten him down please?” the librarian asks the mother. “He’s disturbing other patrons, they’re trying to read.”

The mother becomes indignant and angry. “Fine, fine!!” she exclaims throwing her arms up. “” I thought this was a public library, but obviously we’re not welcomed here!” she huffs and storms off towards her soon. “ Max we have to leave now!”

The librarian, dejected and embarrassed, looks helplessly after the mother and son.

Caption: Oops! Hmm, will this mother and son want to come back to this library?

While the librarian meant well, trying to control the young man's noise levels in consideration of other patrons in the library, her approach to the mother is completely alienating and unwelcoming. Some people with behavioural or cognitive impairments cannot easily adjust their behaviour.

Could a different decision or approach result in a different outcome?

Options.

Have another go.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.





Scene Twelve.

“Actually, is he okay?” the concerned librarian asks the mother. “Is there anything I can do to help him to make him more comfortable?”

“He has autism so sometimes he gets a little bit frightened when strangers come too close to him,” the mother explains. “ I mean he’s managing really well today; it may look scary but we really are appreciative of the public space we can actually access his type of games and things.”

The librarian is relieved to better understand the situation. “ Okay. Thanks,” she replies to the mother.

Caption: The librarian offered to help, and demonstrated an interest to understand without being intrusive or asking "what's wrong with him?" By doing this, she is acknowledging the mother's experience and expertise, as well as reassuring her neither she nor her son is being judged. This approach creates a more welcoming environment in the library for everyone.

But a different choice could have a different result.

Options.

Have another go.

Continue.

Librarian’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective.

Older patron’s perspective .

Please make a choice from above.





Scene Thirteen.

The Librarian’s perspective: I’m a new staff member here at the library so I’m slowly getting to know all the regulars and really enjoying meeting these new people.

Return.




Scene Fourteen.

The Mother’s perspective: It’s difficult dealing with this every day and people often misunderstand him and I know it’s frustrating for them but I just wish they could show a little more compassion because he loves coming here, and I love coming here so I can have a look at my recipes and read the magazines.

Return.





Scene Fifteen.

The Older Man’s perspective: I like coming to my library because it’s a place where I can sit quietly; I can read what I choose to read and I can get away from you know, the worries, the cares, the traffic, the noise, the people. Especially I like the quiet.

Return.



Reflection.

What are some conditions that may cause behavioural or cognitive difficulties?

Take a moment to think or write your reply before reading on.



Some suggestions (though not exhaustive):

autism spectrum disorders.

acquired brain injury.

intellectual or developmental disability.

mental health impairments.

attention deficit disorder.



What are some general tips to remember when communicating with someone with a behavioural or cognitive impairment?

Take a moment to think or write your reply before reading on.

Some suggested responses (though not exhaustive):

Be mindful of personal space.

Use simple, direct sentence and short questions.

Speak clearly and gently with a positive, calming tone.

Avoid touching the person, even to comfort.

Ask how you can assist them.



Are there other approaches you would try if you were in this situation?



Caption: Hopefully, this scenario has challenged some assumptions you may make about customers when you see them in your library. We can't always immediately see the reason or cause of someone's behaviour, But we can be flexible in our approach to them, as well as consider multiple points of view to make our services more accessible.

End Module