How do I get people to leave at closing time?


How do you pleasantly convince stubborn patrons that it is time to leave at closing time?

We do a pre-closing announcement about 15 minutes before closing.

98% of people are good about collecting their materials and making their way to the front desk.

However, we do have that occasional person that doesn’t want to leave a computer station or study table when it’s time for us to lock the doors. Some take a lot of time gathering their items. I know some are homeless and don’t have anywhere else to go. They often need to use the washroom before they leave because they may not have access to any facilities after hours.

Is there anything we can do to move folks along so we can close on time?



There are no magic wands.

A few pointers for talking to people in the moment:

• I’ve found that being “pleasantly annoying” can be helpful. In your case, I would stand near them and tell them its closing time and then cheerfully start talking about different things to them. It sends the message “I’m not leaving until you do.”

• Say “I’m really sorry, I would love to let you stay, but I have to ensure that our staff can get home to their families.” (A little guilt goes a long way). “Staff can’t get home to their families” is a VERY legitimate reason (that they may not have thought about).

A few pointers for repeat offenders:

• It works better if you get “pennies in the cup” with the repeat offenders.

• I think it is ok that they get an “extra” warning delivered personally.

“Hey Bob, you were a little late getting out of here yesterday. Can you do me a favor and start packing up now, so you have enough time to get your things together?”

• If someone is especially bad, there is nothing wrong with talking to them about it.

“John, you know you are my favorite patron, but you always leave 20 minutes late. The staff can’t get home to their families. If it keeps happening, I will be forced to ask you to take a couple days “break” from the library. I don’t want for that to happen, so what can we do to solve this?”

Asking the person to be a part of the solution increases your odds of success!

Good luck!


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