Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Jersey Library Locks Doors After School

I read about this article on Michael Stephen's Tame the Web. It states that the Maplewood Public Library has decided to lock its doors between 2:45 pm and 5 pm to keep rowdy teens out of the library. These teens apparently descend upon the library and cause chaos.

In consultation with a lawyer, the library board came up with behavior guidelines in May 2005 that prohibited activities like “hairdressing or grooming of another person” and “refusal to leave the building.” The policy includes some politely precise language common to those who speak softly from behind a reference desk: “If a patron seems to be placing a staff member in the position of providing a nonlibrary-related function, the staff member may bring the interaction to a prompt conclusion."

But library officials felt that a bigger stick was needed. Last week, the board posted a notice on its Web site and library doors saying it had “struggled with this problem for over 10 years” and voted “with great reluctance” on Dec. 20 to close after school.

When I worked for the Houston Public Library, I worked at a branch located between a elementary school and a middle school. Everyday, we had 50 to 100 children come to our library. At my branch, we worked hard to provide a structured environment for the children so it was just an extension of their school day. We met the children at the door, walked them into the library and gave them assigned seats. We then monitored the stacks assisting children when needed. Did it work all the time? No. We often asked children to leave because of their behavior. I find it hard to believe that a library would be forced to close its doors to avoid dealing with children. There has to be a better solution!!

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