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Mary Puhr - Professional Development Coordinator 
Mid-America Library Alliance 

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Tools to Interact with Patron Challenges with Confidence Webcast 

This is a 30 minute pre-recorded webcast. With our online anytime format, you will immediately receive the link to the webcast, password and  the link to the webcast handout upon successful registration. You do not need any special software to view and listen, just a computer!  Since passwords are changed frequently, we suggest viewing the webcast as soon as possible after registering.


Most challenges begin with how library users are treated by staff when they have a question about a book or website. When concerns are taken seriously, library users are treated with civility, and decisions about collection development and rules about computer access are made with input, most challenges are manageable.

Ten Tips:

  • Remember: The challenger might be right!
  • Review policies on patron challenges with staff every year.
  • Role-play or demonstrate what to say, and how to say it.
  • Decide who is in charge of dealing with challenges.
  • Develop a written procedure with the board, and post it and publish it.
  • Make professional friends with people of different religious and political views.
  • Always maintain a polite and positive demeanor towards the people who challenge materials.
  • Avoid quick decisions to placate angry people on either side of an issue.
  • Formalize acquisitions policies.
  • Ensure your elected and appointed officials will back you up, or be prepared for public and personal turmoil.


  1. Promote public discussions of First Amendment issues.
  2. Develop written procedures for dealing with material challenges.
  3. Publicize written procedures and ask for comments and discussion from greater community.
  4. Review and update collection development methods that reflect best practices regarding evaluating materials.
  5. Discuss ethics of access to information and coping with distasteful materials with staff as part of their duties in a library.


Pat Wagner has been a trainer, educator, and consultant for 40 years, having worked with clients in 48 states and Canada. She is a manager and producer at Pattern Research, Inc. Pat likes to find the essence in models of human behavior and organizational design and build effective and engaging formats for learning: face-to-face, in print, and online. She has been a poet, playwright, printer, publisher, and graphic designer, and loves books, gardens, and the arts.


Each registration entitles the registrant only to access the webcast. Registrations may not be shared in any way or viewed in a group setting. You may not broadcast or redistribute in any way without prior approval from Mid-America Library Alliance. That includes, but is not limited to, displaying webcast via projector, large screen tv, or overhead projector. 

  • MALA member: $15.00
  • Non-member: $30.00

MALA Webcast Billing/Refund/Credit Policy:  We prefer all webcasts to be prepaid.  If you prefer to be billed, there is a $5 charge for this service.