The Transparent Library: Embracing Service to Teens

MS: Comments on my blog ranged from the forward-thinking, right-up-Ranganathan’s alley and the “Anonymous” who said, “Of course that crap should be banned” to the thoughtful critique and commentary of Ian McKinney from cutting-edge Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN. He reminds us the problem was specific kids, not technology. Indeed, I worry the teens in Mishawaka won’t care about the library and that will hurt the whole community. Were other solutions considered?

MC: When we advocate bringing teens into the library, we don’t acquiesce to rowdy teen behavior, as some suspect. Behavioral problems are never acceptable in the library. Foul-mouthed teens need to be booted out for the day, and problem teens for longer periods. Sometimes this means hiring security guards, and sometimes this means setting a firm tone at the beginning.

But don’t misunderstand; teens will be teens–they need to talk and socialize–so don’t expect a library with a lot of teens to be quiet. Carving out a teen area is great, if you have the room. If not, try to find an area that can be kept relatively quiet and offer it to those users who need a sanctuary.

Issues with teens are often larger community challenges. Kids need interesting and safe things to do. The entire community should be a part of the solution.

Read the whole column here