Over the last 4 years at Red Deer Public Library, I have found that there is a fine line between social work and teen librarianship. I am quite comfortable with the tweeny boppers plunking themselves down in a chair every day after school (or during if they are skipping) and telling me all about their lives.’ This I can handle, as usually they just want someone to nod and smile and offer the occasional bit of advice.
The problem has arisen with the high contingent of at-risk street teens using the library who inform me of serious problems such as addictions, pregnancies and suicidal thoughts. With these teens I try to refer them to someone more qualified in the area – a doctor, counsellor, specialist, etc, but follow through is limited and/ or non existent with many of them and I am left torn between the fact that A) I know they have not sought help and B) I know it is not my responsibility as a librarian to get them that help.
Or is it? It may not be in my job description, but to have a pregnant, drug addicted 14 year old that you know has fallen through the cracks of the system, one cannot help but feel a little responsible. Have my other fellow librarians found a way of successfully dealing with these issues?