What is Patron-Perpetrated Sexual Harassment in Libraries?

Patron-perpetrated Sexual Harassment (PPSH) is the sexual harassment of library workers by the very people they endeavor to support— library patrons. Despite growing calls within libraries and Library and Information Studies (LIS) to examine this issue, patron-perpetrated sexual harassment against library workers is largely ignored and research on this topic is noticeably lacking. Under-reporting and normalizing of the issue has contributed to the lack of acknowledgement in academic and professional scholarship that this is a serious issue.

“The very essence of library work situates workers precisely at the intersection of feminized work, service work, care work, and precarious work – all of which exist within historically entrenched systems of patriarchy and hegemony and result in the de-professionalization, devaluation, and sexualization of their labour. This is often further compounded by intersectional aspects of library workers’ identity, such as race and class, that make them additionally vulnerable to sexual harassment. Library values of inclusion and universal access also contribute to the reluctance of library institutions to acknowledge and address this issue.” (Allard, Lieu, & Oliphant, forthcoming)

Our Research Project

The PPSH in libraries research project is being conducted by Dr. Danielle Allard, Dr. Tami Oliphant, and Angela Lieu at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. We wish to interrogate the complex and interconnected layers of PPSH by hearing from library workers themselves, examining workplace policies and procedures, and applying intersectional feminist and anti-racist frameworks to our research. Learn more about the research project here.

This website will share information related to the PPSH in libraries project. Over the coming months we seek to serve as an information and resource hub for libraries, library workers, and interested students and scholars about PPSH in libraries and sexual harassment more broadly.