A Misplacement of Vigilance

An interesting editorial from Atlanta talks about the policies of the Atlanta Fulton County Public Library when it comes to adults using the children's area of the library. Apparently it's against policy for an adult to be in the children's section if they're not with a child. In an age of seeming rampant pedophilia, that makes sense, at least on the face of it.

But I think a library staff member at AFCPL said it best in the article when she explained that the policy is backwards. The library shouldn't prohibit adults without kids, rather they should prohibit kids without adults.


for the same reasons. again, libraries are screwed. we want people to visit the library, so we allow kids to be left unattended because they create statistics: parents will leave their kids wherever they can, the post office, the jail, or even with a kindly gentleman who wants to take their pictures because they are so beautiful. we have polices for unattended kids (but only enforce them for kids who cause problems) and for lone adults (who hang around the children's room). but we can't enforce the one for the unattended kids because we can't throw kids out of the library to sit outside alone (with the pedophiles we kicked out?) and wait for their parents to pick them up. so we kick out the tax payer who writes to the paper to report how much we suck.

From the article:

"After all, no one would expect a parent to drop her child off at the playground while she runs a few errands. Even retail stores post signs for parents not to leave their kids unattended. So what makes the library so exclusive? Absolutely nothing."

The author is from Atlanta? Atlanta, GEORGIA? How can you say something like that about one of the largest, busiest cities in America?

Who wouldn't expect a mother to leave her kid on a playground unattended? I expect that. I'd expect her to jam the kid into the wheel-well of her Volvo SUV and sashay her way into a Starbucks.

Maybe he lives in the 1953 version of Atlanta.

If they are banning adults from the Childrens Library that is fine, does make sense. Well that is until you get parents who are without their kids giving library staff long listsof books to get from the Childrens Library as they are no longer allowed in there. I used to work in a Children's Library and you'd get a lot of parents who actually cared about getting their kids to read and so would come in and get books for them.

And if there is a security guard to get adults out of the Children's Library I must assume that they are keeping an eye on everyone? Well in that case if they see a parent leaving their kid alone in the Library maybe they should be told to chase after the parents and pull them back in to look after their kid?
It's only fair after all. Libraries are not kindergardens. If kids are left alone and the parents were missed or ran out too quickly then when they come back to pick them up they should be given a bill for childcare/security fee. (valid as it's not a service run by the Library which is paid for by their tax dollars so it'd be valid to charge for additional services) That might focus their minds a bit on their social and parental responsibilities.

I went to the Atlanta Journal site and read the article; at the end is a note from the editor to the effect that they had contacted the library and were told that the guard was acting on his own, and there was no such policy. So, acting as a good librarian, I visited the Atlanta Fulton website and viewed their customer policy. Lo and behold, under "You are NOT permitted to:" is a line which reads "Loiter in the children's area which is reserved for children and their parents or caregivers only". It is unfortunately up to the guard to define loitering. Also, it doesn't say "children ACCOMPANIED by their parents or caregivers only", so how is the guard supposed to determine who is or is not a parent or caregiver in the children's area? And why would that knowledge make a difference, as many child molesters are parents/caregivers? There is no easy answer. As a parent, I want my children to be able to go to the library independently (which is allowed at Atlanta for children 9 and over), and I also think that there are many legitimate reasons an adult might want to spend time in the children's area. But even in our tiny library, we are concerned about predators. Banning adults is not a good answer - but what is?