Saturday, March 10, 2007

a bit of an extreme reaction...

here's an interesting little tale:

Cardholder found struggling in river
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Mary Beth Lane
LANCASTER, Ohio — A woman who carried no identification except her public library card was plucked from the icy waters of the Hocking River on Thursday night.
Lancaster police were able to identify her as 51-year-old Sheila Springer, but no thanks to the Fairfield County District Library.
Police are considering referring a complaint of obstruction of official business to the Lancaster city prosecutor over library circulation manager Laura Gibson’s refusal to cooperate, Sgt. Randy Greenawalt said yesterday.
Springer remained at Grant Medical Center in Columbus yesterday, but her condition was not made public at her request, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Police got a call from a passer-by at 8:43 p.m. that a woman was in the water behind Carnival Foods along Memorial Drive, where a footbridge crosses the Hocking River.
The caller, 56-year-old Jimmy Willoughby, was walking across the bridge when he heard cries that he initially thought came from a cat in distress, he told police. Then he spotted a woman in the water directly under the bridge.
After he called police, he plunged into the water to help.
Police Officer Eric Eggleston found the man holding the woman’s head above the water. The water was about 1 foot deep, but the current was strong. The two men struggled trying to get her up a steep, slippery riverbank, and then Lancaster firefighters arrived and used ropes to drag her from the water.
She was fully clothed but bore no identification except for her library card on a key ring. A police dispatcher reached the library circulation manager and asked for help identifying the woman. Gibson refused.
Officer Matt Mullett then tried, explaining that it was an emergency and she was required to cooperate, and Gibson refused again, saying she could not release the information without a subpoena, according to the police report.
"I can’t comment," Gibson said yesterday, when reached at the library.
Meanwhile, the woman was identified after she was taken to Fairfield Medical Center, where someone recognized her. She was flown from there to Grant Medical Center.
The woman told Eggleston, who accompanied the rescue squad to Fairfield Medical Center, that she had gone to Carnival Foods to buy a Mountain Dew and was walking back across the footbridge when she wound up in the water. How she got there is still unclear, Eggleston said, because she gave varying accounts.
She hurt her pelvis and leg, the officer said.
Police had not had any trouble with the library before, said Deputy Chief Dave Bailey. He said he had no comment about the librarian’s behavior Thursday night.
Orman Hall, president of the library’s board of trustees, said it was unfortunate that the librarian did not cooperate and suggested that she mistakenly erred on the side of conservatism in preserving the confidentiality of a library patron.
He was confident that library Director Marilyn Steiner would educate the employees on how to work with police.
"We need to do some work," Hall said. "I am confident that Marilyn and her staff will clarify the issues around confidentiality to make sure this doesn’t happen again."
Police plan to honor Willoughby for his efforts, Greenawalt said
now i just have this to say about that:
first off, does the press just go in search of stories to make librarian look like stern, "we must obey the rules at all costs", hands-on-hips, shushing, naysayers (and i'm also questioning the actual "librarian" distinction itself~it seems like the actual job title was Circulation Manager~which doesn't always mean librarian~in my system it doesn't~i know in some systems it does~i know the MILS is a bone of contention among many in the profession {and i also know that you don't ALWAYS have to have one to be a Librarian} but outside of the profession people still seem to think that anyone working within the walls of a library is called a Librarian~and i'm really not saying anything against the paraprofessionals here~just against a press who doesn't do the proper research or a public who remains uninformed of titles.)?
secondly, how much did it really hinder the whole rescue process to NOT know the woman's NAME?
thirdly, yes, there are confidentiality issues, but couldn't she have called someone then and there to give her the okay to give out the name under the circumstances (that is, since she didn't seem to have the common sense to see that yes, she could actually give out the information (and, as someone pointed out on one of my lists, the police ARE allowed to lie to get information, how was the Circulation Manager to know that this wasn't one of those cases~tho i'm not sure how damaging a name could be~again, colour me uninformed) asked and nobody would really fault her for it~at least i don't think so~but maybe that's just the rash, wild, non-stern, non-rule- obeying, librarian in me?)

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