[Michlib-l] Staff Cellphone question & responses

Dave Ewick dewick at southfieldlibrary.org
Fri Jul 27 08:37:52 EDT 2018

Hello Everyone - below are the responses I received from the group,
along with my original question. 
Thank you to all who responded. Now we have to figure out what we're
going to do - lol! - Dave

Cell Phone use by Staff Question & Responses					
   July 2018

Original question: I'm hoping someone has a great cell phone policy
that assists staff in best practices for the use of cell phones on the
job, especially when one is at a public service desk. Our policy is the
grand old: "Use your best judgment" but it seems that some are taking
advantage of their colleagues and over-using their phones. 

Troy:  TPL policy is no personal cell phone use at the public service
desk. Too distracting, takes away from patron service. 

Commerce: My issue is staff using their cell phone for
business/professional calls. Your call-backs need to be on the library
phone with library voicemail. In case you get hit by a truck or
something we still need to deal with the business in your incoming
calls.  And I do not want to hear your personal phone ring at the circ
desk. Keep in your cubicle please, they will leave you a message.
At every job I've had, our staff cell phone policy has been no cell
phones at the desk unless 1) Explicit approval from the Department Head,
2) There's an urgent matter where you need to have your cell phone
nearby, in which case refer to #1, and 3) You are the On-Duty Librarian
- Emergency numbers and Administration Home/Cell numbers should be
programed into the cell phone.
There are really no other instances where a staff member should need
their cell phone at the desk. If someone needs to get a hold of a staff
member while they are at work, they can call the library and be
transferred to them. Otherwise, personal calls should be made during
off-desk time or breaks. Having cell phones at the desk can give off the
appearance that staff is distracted, staff is not busy enough, or staff
is too busy - all of which reduce patron interaction and hurt the
reputation of the library and its staff.

Novi: shared their rules of conduct “listed below are founded on the
principles of common sense and decency, and must be followed by all
employees at all times:
· Do not use foul language at the Library.
· Conduct yourself in a professional manner.
· Refrain from sharing your personal concerns and hardships with
patrons and other employees.
· Maintain workplace safety.
· Keep an eye out for the patron’s safety.
· Respect other people’s property.
· Provide correct, unaltered information on all Library records.
· Perform your job as to the job description and requirements.
· Adhere to your work schedule.
· Avoid tardiness.
· Respect the Break Policy.
· The Library is an alcohol and drug free work place.
· Loitering at the Library when not on duty is not appropriate.
· Always maintain a neat, clean appearance and follow the dress code
· Eat food and beverages in designated employee areas only.
· Refrain from making personal phone calls, unless in case of
· Do not listen to I-Pods or similar devices in public areas.
· Follow all health code and safety rules at all times.
· Possession of weapons is strictly prohibited, including tasers, mace
and pepper spray.
· The secret recording of conversations or communications is
· Do not destroy or deface property.
·Do not accept any gifts, gratuities, favors or services from patrons.
Do not buy anything from patrons at the Library.”

James White Library at Andrews University:  We recently reviewed our
outdated cell phone policy, with our student workers input.
They pointed out that they frequently used their phones for
work-related things (especially when working the in the stacks) for
taking pictures of shelving questions and texting their supervisors for
various clarifications, and the calculator at the desk for counting the
money drawer. 
They also came up with these guidelines:
No Headphones

No face timing

No movies, etc.

No personal calls or texting

No social media

If you have the "Do Not Disturb" feature, turn it on while at work.

*Also, look up from what you are doing every time you hear the door
open and make eye contact with patrons.

Royal Oak:  "Personal cell phone and electronic device use is not
permitted in public areas. It is important for staff to be accessible to
the public." 
	   (However, personally I don't have a problem with staff having
their phones, especially in this day where we have to worry about active
shooters and other emergencies. I find it's best to approach the person
individually if you think someone is overusing their phone and find out
if something is going on at home where they would need to have greater
access to their communication device and form a plan about how that can
happen without it interfering with work, especially at a public service
desk. Additionally, a gentle documented reminder followed by progressive
discipline steps would help you enforce your policy in a consistent
Baldwin:  We don't allow staff to use their phones when they are at the
public services. It's not a policy, but it is a known rule and is rarely

There was a discussion this week in the library administration group on
Facebook. many wanted to leave cells available for emergencies and for
demonstrations of apps. One group said proper use was mentioned in their
orientation as "don't be the person who makes us need a strict policy on
this." the other point that was made was some staff do need to be "on
call" for fmla type reasons. so that's off the top, but you could check
out the group. 

Mott Library:  We don't have a formal, written policy. However, since
we do not currently have panic buttons installed at our service desks
and our campus public safety does have an app that allows to quickly
contact them on our mobile phones in case of emergency, I do allow staff
and student workers to have their phones with them at the service desks.
However, they are not to use their phones for personal use (which
includes texting or calls) during scheduled desk shifts. Phones are to
be on vibrate or silent while on the desk and calls should go to
voicemail. If they need to handle personal business, it needs to wait
until a break or their lunch hour.
That said, there have been some special circumstances (sick child,
waiting on serious medical test results, etc.) where exceptions were

Saranac:  We struggled for a few years with staff cell phone usage. I
understood why staff wanted access to their phones for easy contact with
their kids/family, etc however it was very unprofessional for them to be
on their phones when patrons came in. I instituted a policy that phones
could be in the staff closet behind the circ desk and could be used back
there if there was enough coverage at the desk however usage should be
limited to a brief time. I only have one staff member that I have had to
remind about this in the past year. It seems to work out well- they can
access the phone if necessary and do so quickly without the phone
sitting on the circulation desk...

Shelby Twp: We do not have a written policy. However, I enforce a
strict "no phones front of house" policy. We have charging stations for
our part-time staff back of house. All staff (those that don't have an
office/cubicle) can charge their phones there for easy access and
recharging. If there's a specific reason that a staff member might need
their phone, they can ask for a special dispensation from me (kid home
sick that might need monitoring, husband recovering from knee
replacement, elderly mother in care facility) and I will allow them to
carry their phone on them on vibrate (front of house) for an agreed upon
time period only. Otherwise, if you're off desk and in the back, you can
use as needed. Most staff tend to use for texting rather than talking.
So, it's quiet and non-disruptive.

Rochester Hills: Staff may use their own cell phones at their desk, but
not at the public service desks. 
Southgate: We have a cell phone policy in place that prohibits cell
phone calls and asks that ringtones be muted while in the library,
except for the lobby at the front. Staff are expected to follow the same
rules, though we allow them to make calls in the staff areas. I've also
prohibited use of cell phones at the service desk, so no texting or
Pokemon GO while manning it. We don't have any rules for cell phone use
otherwise, but thankfully no one has their nose glued to the screen all
day (that I've noticed).

David L. Ewick, MLS, MS
City Librarian
Southfield Public Library
26300 Evergreen
Southfield, Michigan 48076
248 796-4300
dewick at southfieldlibrary.org 
P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail. 

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