No children under 7 at library


nbruce writes "The sub-headline in today's Columbus Dispatch looked a bit startling, "no pets or children under 7" but the story was about unattended children in the Columbus Public Library system. New rules. No children under 7 without a parent or caregiver.

The reporter included a story about a child young enough to have dirty diapers left with siblings and a sack of McDonald's hamburgers while Mama went off to the shopping center.

Now, if the staff can't find the parent within 30 minutes, they will call the police. One mother interviewed for the story said her own limit for leaving children alone at the library is age 14. Other parents (and staff) thought the age limit for unattended children should be set higher."


I don't care what one mother's age limit is for leaving her kids alone at the library. The supervision of children isn't the responsibility of the library staff. We've had just as many rowdy teens as we've had younger kids and the situation's the same. You ask them where their folks are, and they tell you that they were dropped off so mom and dad could go do X. I don't know about where anyone else works, but the sign above the door where I work says "Library" not "Library and Babysitting Services."

We've had to call the police on a few occasions, but not just because kids were left unattended. Usually, the kids are acting out, behaving inappropriately, running, shoving, etc. We're calling the police mainly because we want them thrown out. It just happens that their parents aren't there either. So the "unattended children" thing comes in secondary there.

But that's not what frightens me. I've faced kids with attitudes, clenched fists, and swagger enough to satisfy a Confederate army. You know about them, you can't help but know about them. No what scares me are the good kids, the kids that mummy drops off so she can get her hair done. The kind that you see them walk in, they smile, and disappear into the stacks to find a book. Why do those kids scare me? Cause you're probably not going to notice when they go missing or leave. Someone could walk in, kidnap them, and we might not even notice. After all, they weren't running around or creating a problem. They're good kids, not the type to wander off... So where the hell did they go?

That's what scares the hell out of me; the kids who are so willing to please that they'll pretty much go anywhere with anyone. All because their parents aren't there to tell them it's not a good idea. I try and keep an eye on kids like that, but how can you when you have to stay at a front desk that only surveys so much area? Sometimes I wish we did have cameras, just so I can keep an eye on someone who's parents are too damned stupid to keep an eye on for themselves.

We are a public building. So why is it okay to drop your kids off here, instead of, say, the mayor's office? Suggest that to one of the parents, and they'll look at you like you're nuts. Why would I drop my kid at the mayor's office?

They don't realize that public is just that. Freaks and perverts come to the library oftentimes. They don't leave their kids on the playground for that reason. What the hell is the difference? Bookshelves that the pervs can hide behind to abduct and molest your kid? Great!

This is striking a chord after what I had to go through yesterday with a certain group of kids. I was hoping that the cops would be there still when mom and dad came to pick up the "perps" in question. These kids, well behaved or otherwise, are just dumb kids, and they need guidance. Not from librarians. After school programs, church programs, work study programs... okay. The Y... okay. Their parents... well, that would be ideal.

On the other hand, wherever did these parents get the idea that the public library is a day care center? Perhaps it is the public library unknowingly or knowingly sending out the message that the library is the place where children can hang out. I've heard public libraries say such things as, "The public library is the community's living room."

Certain public libraries and certain library organizations say: Come on, everyone's welcome. We can do it all. Look at anything you want. Rules, well those are not that important. Bums, you can stay for as long as you like, take over the place. Hey, we will give you unrestricted access to porn because we somehow feel that it is our job to do that even though you can access porn in the privacy of your own home.

Yeah, yeah. I know I'm mixing two seemingly unrelated subjects but I'm simply showing that the library is a place where rules about conduct and behavior should and must be enforced.

I personally think the library is incapable of being everything to everybody. I also think that librarians and library workers are NOT social workers. Unfortunately, certain library organizations want to view themselves as such and therefore this type of thing is an unfortunate byproduct of this view that the library is everything to everybody.

I don't think this policy of prohibiting unattended minors is at all unreasonable.

N.B. How's that for a Sunday morning rant?

I personally think the library is incapable of being everything to everybody.

Well ... haven't we told them that we *want* to be everything to everyone by adding coffee shops, free wireless access points, bookstores, etc.

While I'm not advocating such, perhaps it's more of the "anything to get them in the door" mindset?

And if your local grocer has a short-term drop-off area for kids, why can't or shouldn't the library? Granted, the case mentioned is extreme, but perhaps this presents an opportunity?

I can understand the trouble some patrons (children *and* adults) can cause but I'm shocked that any librarian would advocate requiring _all_ children to be accompanied by an adult.As a child, both my parents worked and starting at about 10, I spent several hours after school at the local public library. I can't imagine where I would have gone if I couldn't have gone into the library without an adult. Granted, I was a good patron (and grew up to be a Librarian) but we can't let a few bad apples take away what for some kids is the only semi-safe place after school.I acknowledge that there are still weirdos out there and it isn't the Library's responsibility to monitor children but if a child is going to be left alone, I'd rather they be in our library than at the mall or an unsupervised park...

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