An SJCPL Librarian Responds to Mishawaka’s Ban

An SJCPL Librarian comments on the Mishawaka Ban:

I work in the reference department at SJCPL and yes – we’re getting the overflow from Mishawaka now that MySpace and Facebook have been restricted. Our computers are basically full with a queue all of the time. I’ll share some thoughts…

First, we have a limit of 2 persons per computer. We were hesitant to do that, but found that things were just getting too loud. We do still get complaints about the noise level and we try to keep the peace as much as we can. We don’t have our computers in a special room – they are all at circular stations in front of the reference desk.

Second, we have security. Lots of security. We have over 20 cameras and no fewer than 4 security staff in the building at all times. This is a luxury that some libraries may feel that they cannot afford, but I question that. It is a matter of priorities. Patrons have to feel safe. Staff has to feel safe. If patrons don’t feel safe they stop coming – except for the patrons who are contributing to the problem – so you have a situation that grows exponentially worse.

Finally, we have an administration that will back up their staff. We have been told that if we need to intervene in a Code of Conduct violation that we should act with the confidence that administration will support our decision. Fortunately this is not often necessary, because we can simply call security, but there have been a few instances where threatening language has been used and library staff stepped in to address the issue before it came to blows.

It is a difficult balance to strike. Discouraging troublemakers is important, but discouraging an entire demographic from using library services seems like something that will contribute to future problems for the library system. I get annoyed by teens. You bet. But isn’t that their job? Sometimes it is a good day when we get them to keep their pants up and their tops down. lol But they seem to like it here and they’ll remember that when, someday, they need information in addition to that entertainment.

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2 thoughts on “An SJCPL Librarian Responds to Mishawaka’s Ban”

  1. thank you for posting this – I work in a library where the director has stated that it is her -goal- to get rid of the teens, and repeatedly stated that she hates teens. Without them, the library is deadly quiet – 4 staff to 2 patrons quiet, yet the director and the other library staff prefer that situation to the slightest disturbance. As the new young adult librarian, I apparently wasn’t kicking them out quickly enough (trying to work with them to create a more tenable situation), and so a “bouncer” was hired. And now we have 5 staff to 2 patrons. Sigh – but this post gives me a bit of hope and some fodder for thought about creating a situation where the space can be shared.

  2. It is not about teens, per se; however, it is about teens (young adults) that have absolutely no respect for the library, for other patrons, or for anyone who they view as “figures of authority.”
    I have no problem with teens using myspace. The problem I have is with teens that are seeking to do nothing more than use myspace (free computers) and could care less about the rest of the library/patrons. THOSE teens do not wait patiently for their turn to use the computers, no – since they have no interest in any other part of the library, they use their “waiting” time to run all over the place and cause all kind of disturbances.

    The public library I work for does not do enough to have separate areas for teens. I believe that if the teens that come to my public library had their own separate space where they were simply allowed to “be teens,” then their wold be much less friction, for lack of a better word, between the adults and youth.

    What I mean by “allowed to be teens,” is not simply just setting up an out of the way area where there are no rules. I view it more as an area where rules are still enforced, but some tolerance is allowed, knowing that young adults behave differently with one-another in a social setting.

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