Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Club from Hell

I just spoke to a friend of mine who attends a church in Brooklyn. There is a small group of people who meet there and have a book club.

Last night an addict wandered in during their meeting saying he wanted to talk to the pastor, who was also part of the book discussion. The man attempted to take over the meeting and on his third attempt snapped, grabbed a girl with her back to him, put her in a headlock and started yelling. He appeared to have a knife to her throat.

My friend's girlfriend ran up to the parsonage to notify the other pastor and have her call 911. The attacker began yelling at my friend to "get that girl back in here," which gave my friend a chance to get to the door and leave. The pastor, attacker, hostage and hostage's husband remained inside.

The attacker was eventually appeased by some money and left the church. The hostage suffered only a nick to her ear; the believed knife turned out to be a pen.

They didn't catch the suspect but did file a police report and look through mugshots. They also drove around the neighborhood seeing if they could locate him.

This story made me stop and think about all of our library jobs. We are not unlike that church because we provide space to meet. Oftentimes meetings are at night, sometimes even after operating hours. Most librarians are female and we often work alone or in small numbers (thanks budget cuts).

Obviously we can't just start bringing guns to work, but we should have training about what to do in an emergency and self-defense. It probably wouldn't hurt to be trained about how to deal with hostile or chemically altered people, too.

I'm not sure how I would've reacted, but there's a good chance I would've gotten stabbed by an inkpen and then cried myself to sleep that night. I'm so glad my friends are safe.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, that is so scary. Given my previous reaction to violent crime -- screaming at the guy at the top of my lungs and fighting back for no reason at all, when I should have just let him take my stupid bag -- I am sure I'd have been stabbed in the throat and crying myself to sleep too.

    But this is also something that the public library is thinking about here too, and they're doing a seminar sometime soon with this guy called the Blackbelt Librarian. It seems there is also a book:

    I'm a sucker for any pitch that starts out, "Here's what they didn't tell you in library school..."