The Board of the Maplewood, NJ Public Library recently decided to close the library’s doors from 2:45 to 5:00 PM every weekday. Why? Because parents were sending their middle school children to the library after school and the teens were not behaving in a way the library feels is appropriate. (Socializing instead of working on homework, etc.)

The letter from the library Board of Trustees on the library web site states that this has been a problem for about ten years. Other than reading the letter I don’t really know anything about the situation but I have been thinking about:

  • The message sent to teens with the library being closed when they are most available to be there.
  • The message parents send to teens about the library as a child care service.
  • The messages the library sends to teens if socializing isn’t as well accepted as research.
  • What the teens will think of the library once this is over.
  • The messages sent to teens by adults all around them on a regular basis. Messages about how teens are and are not accepted by those within their community.

As I said, my only knowledge of this is what I read on the web site. But, are the teens ultimately being punished for a situation the adults around them created?

Just wondering….

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

6 Thoughts on “One Way to Send a Message

  1. Beth Gallaway [Visitor] on December 27, 2006 at 2:36 pm said:

    WOW. this is a bit extreme. I wonder how the students are going to riot now…

    Maybe SUS training would help?

  2. Kelly [Member] on December 27, 2006 at 6:44 pm said:

    It sounds like they have consulted a lot of people. What about librarians? Librarians and libraries that have had similar situations.I think we can try to come up with some better solutions.

  3. Susan Babb [Visitor] on December 28, 2006 at 2:23 pm said:

    Another wow here.
    It seems very extreme and targetting only a small proportion of the population. Consequently everyone who is not a “troublesome” teen is penalized.
    I KNOW libraries have come up with solutions! Maybe not perfect everlasting solutions but nothing is.
    I wonder what the reaction is or will be in this community.

  4. Merrie [Visitor] on January 2, 2007 at 6:42 pm said:

    I’m a YA librarian at a central NJ library with the exact same problem (if not worse). When I first started, I thought “Awesome! Look at all these teens using the library!” Now I see Maplewood’s side. We have middleschoolers afraid to leave the building because more packs of teens might beat them up outside. Kids yell f-words in my face when I tell them their internet time is up (so that another teen can have a turn). N-words and f-words ring througout the library, so that parents don’t want to bring young children in (our children’s room is empty, for this reason). The staff is outnumbered 40:1 and it is very challenging to provide service to the many behaved teens who badly need library service and computer access. The police can’t deal with the problem, because they don’t want to deal with the parents (who frequently just defend the teens). I do two teen programs a week, and the programs average 40 teens a week, but as as many kids as I occupy in the program room, there are more upstairs packed in the public area. At least Maplewood is sending a dramatic message to the town that they need to open a youth center to fill this need!

  5. Sue [Visitor] on January 4, 2007 at 8:25 am said:

    I think drastic action was warranted in order to wake up the “not my child” parents and the community. I am a high school librarian, and I have similar issues during the after school period. Kids don’t want to go home, so they stay here and misbehave. I am forced to limit how many I take here because noone can get any work done.

  6. Randy [Visitor] on January 10, 2007 at 9:08 am said:

    This is very disappointing. When I arrived as the teen librarian here in MI I was faced with a similar situation. We found that through use of monitors and conversations with the community we were able to alleviate almost all of the problems. One thing that proved very beneficial early on was the removal of an after school bus run that allowed middle schoolers to come straight to the library after school. When parents, family members or walking became the only travel options we reduced dramatically the number of problem teens.

    Many situations like this arise from a lack of direct interaction with the teens involved. Teen programs can aid in that interaction but it is face to face work with the teens themselves while they are socializing that can have the most benefit. Obviously, some teens will not respond to a one on one approach, it is these that the Library must ban from using the facility for a time, but most teens will respond to respect and interaction. It sounds like this library system needs a teen librarian more than a lock on its doors but I am not privy to all the details here.

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