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Thu, Jun. 13th, 2013, 08:12 pm
mis_creation: Religious experiences in the computer lab?!

Okay, so I've actually had this happen a few times, and I'm caught flat-footed every. damn. time.

A person (in all cases it's been women and I have no idea if that's telling or not) comes in. They sign onto a computer. They put on headphones. And about twenty minutes in they start muttering to themselves. Then whispering to themselves. Some of them whimper, and make noises I'm kind of uncomfortable hearing. Then they start crying or whimpering, and their whisper/low talk gets louder and they're saying "Jesus, praise Jesus, thank you Jesus, praise him," etc over and over.

I'm seriously uncomfortable, but they're not being really loud, just kind of weird and unnerving?

What the fuck do I do? I don't deal well with religiosity and the like, it generally leaves me confused and like I want to run away. I don't want to tell them not to do that here, because infringement on rights and all that.

But when they're crying and raising their hands and talking to themselves, I'm just kind of like, what the hell do I do with that?!

Anyone have any suggestions? I'm going to e-mail my boss about this, but I just thought I'd get some ideas here first. I'm re-thinking this; I think I'll consult a few of my fellow lab workers, see if they have anything to add...

(cross posted, sorry for repeats on people's flists)

Fri, Jun. 14th, 2013 02:15 am (UTC)

Wow. I have never heard anything like this before. Can you check the browser history to see what site they're visiting? Are you sure it's not the same (unstable) woman? Good luck with this and please let us know what you discover.

Fri, Jun. 14th, 2013 02:22 am (UTC)

Definitely different women. One was in her fifties with greying hair, one was in her forties/fifties with red hair, and this one tonight is in her twenties. I'm bad with faces for sure but I know these are different women.

They're either listening to prayer groups online (I helped one of them get to the online player) or religious music (Youtube), I've peeked at their screens.

Fri, Jun. 14th, 2013 02:27 am (UTC)

Hmm. Are you in a public library? Are you in an area with a particularly devout or unusual religious community? I'm wondering why they would go there for their religious fix. Are they disturbing other patrons? If they're noisy, maybe that's an excuse you can use. I'll be interested in what your boss says ( if there's a history of this and/or how they choose to handle it).

Fri, Jun. 14th, 2013 02:35 am (UTC)

Public library, not especially devout or religious but I work at the "downtown" branch, so we get a LOT of transients and down-on-their-luck people.

She wasn't noisy enough to get in trouble on a normal day, it was just quiet in the lab so I could hear her, and she was making whimpering and crying noises to herself. It's not crowded and the nighttime population tends to be heavily towards the transients and generally odd people.

No history yet, because in my two or so years working in the lab this has happened about three times on my shifts. We're being more proactive with our policies now because of the problems we've had.

Fri, Jun. 14th, 2013 02:37 am (UTC)

Best of luck to all of you. It sounds like those patrons could use some, too. :(

Fri, Jun. 14th, 2013 03:39 am (UTC)

I'm a religious person myself, but that would definitely make me uncomfortable too. I wouldn't treat it any differently than you would anyone else who was being disruptive - but I do think this sounds disruptive! I'm sure you're not the only one uncomfortable.

Fri, Jun. 14th, 2013 04:10 am (UTC)

Maybe, but no one complained, so our policy is generally if they're not hurting themselves or others, and no one complains about their behavior, to let it slide. I'm reconsidering sending an e-mail to my boss-lady. I'll consult a few of the other lab monitors and see what they think.

Though that makes me feel a little better that someone religious might be a little bugged out too. I have an aversion to religion but it's my problem, not their's!

Fri, Jun. 14th, 2013 11:57 am (UTC)

As a manager in a public library, if this was brought to me by one of my staff, I would say until she breaks a policy (like soliciting) or makes another patron uncomfortable, you have to leave her. All people are entitled to use the library as they like, as long as they're not breaking the rules. When you get a customer complaint, or if she's loud enough to distract you from your work and you're unable to concentrate, then ask her to quiet down. That's my advice :)

Fri, Jun. 14th, 2013 03:15 pm (UTC)

That helps a lot, and my branch manager is overburdened as it is, so I probably won't be bothering her with this. After my initial creep-out session, this is what I'm going with.

Thank you!

Sun, Jun. 16th, 2013 02:29 pm (UTC)

Glad to help!

Fri, Jun. 14th, 2013 01:13 pm (UTC)

Frankly this doesn't strike me as particularly unusual behavior, haha. I agree that until another customer complains or they get too loud, I'd leave them.

Fri, Jun. 14th, 2013 03:50 pm (UTC)

I think that's what I'm leaning towards, too, after my initial weirdness-feeling. Thanks!

Sat, Jun. 15th, 2013 06:11 pm (UTC)

It sounds like an evangelical Christian who doesn't have an Internet connection doing worship. I agree with the other posters that if they start disrupting other patrons or make it difficult for you to do your work, then you could ask them to pray more quietly.

Does your library have a clear policy on stuff like this? Mine has the rules posted over the computer area so that cuts down on arguments if I can just point to the rule that says "No disrupting others."