Academic librarians experience sexual harassment, both from their library colleagues and from patrons, according a new study in College and Research Libraries. The survey, which attracted 690 respondents via academic library email Listservs, found that 78 percent of librarians at academic libraries had experienced gender-based harassment, 64 percent had experienced “seductive behavior” by patrons and 35 percent had experienced sexual assault. Researchers also found that librarians who work at public colleges and universities were more likely to report experiences of sexual harassment than those at private institutions.
There are few to no established disciplinary protocols for reporting harassment from patrons, according to the study, which urges institutions to better protect library workers from harassment. “Our workplaces shouldn’t have to be this way,” the paper concludes. “It is essential that all library workers, including library leaders, stop treating harassment as an inevitable condition of the workplace and that leaders respond to harassment with legal, professional and personal support for targets as the situation indicates.”