BANNED?: Children’s Knitting at the Library! 6

Via Knittinmama, a former student:

A six-year-old girl says she is disappointed after her knitting group was asked to leave an eastern Ontario library due to a new ban on arts and crafts.

“I really had fun in there in the library, and I’m really sad that they stopped that,” said Kingston Currie, who used to spend two hours a week with the Itch and Stitch Club at the Long Sault Library in Long Sault, Ont., about 95 kilometres southeast of Ottawa.

Pamela Haley, manager of library services for the united counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, said the ban on crafts was put on place because the municipality is revamping its 18 library branches in an effort to attract more people and needs to be more literacy-focused to achieve that end.

She said the library’s new fall lineup includes teen book clubs and Scrabble nights. The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.

But under the new plan, there will no longer be a space for Kingston Currie and the other girls, aged six to 10, who used to sit around a table teasing yarn into organized patterns and items with crochet hooks and pairs of needles.

Read the comments as well. It looks like it’s a much more involved story. Folks contacted the library, including this poster: (emphasis mine)

This is the answer I received from Pamela Haley:
A recent article in the Chesterville Record has stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy surrounding the supposed “expelling” of young knitters from the library while retaining “gaming”. This article and the subsequent CBC report is factually inaccurate and decidedly premature.The Library does not have a problem with artistic expression and creativity. The history of programming in the SDG County Library has been, however, to offer programmes with only the making of a craft as its focus, e.g. build a bird house, make cards, decorate eggs, etc. This has drawn patrons in for the craft, who have left without “experiencing” the Library. What we are striving to do is to enhance that library experience by focusing on literature-based programmes. Preparing for these programmes is based on a widely accepted model that involves selecting a theme, and choosing literature and activities based on the theme, with crafts being the occasional addition to the programme.There was no specific targeting of the “Chix with Sticks” group. Indeed, we had placed a call for programmes in the branches and had not received any indication that there was a continued desire for this programme. Even if we had been notified, we would have asked the group to tweak their programme to fall in line with the new programming guidelines. What we are proposing is a programme called “Chix in Stitches” which is a female book club focusing on humourous “chick lit” that encourages knitting, crocheting, etc. during the discussions and a pot of tea to boot.

Interesting take on “experiencing the library…”

6 thoughts on “BANNED?: Children’s Knitting at the Library!

  • Diane

    What a great opportunity to highlight our knitting books and, perhaps encourage the club members’ parents to browse our collections. This, to me, would be a great way to build advocates for the library – and don’t all libraries need those – particularly in difficult economic times?

    I read the link from “the yarn harlot” who doesn’t consider the library to be a community center – while my library has as one of its strategic goals “Library as Community Builder.” We would definitely welcome such a knitting group, just as we welcome the watercolorists who use our meeting room.

    Too bad they live so far away from Virginia!

  • CychoLibrarian

    This makes me think of something I’ve seen in our library as money and staff time become tighter. Difficult decisions have to be made about what programs we can continue to support. A good example is adult book groups. We used to have staff-led book groups in several different branches, where a staff person had to read a book on work time, prepare discussion topics, and then lead a usually small group of adults in a discussion about it. The amount of impact we were getting for all that time wasn’t much.

    The problem is that when the decision was made to no longer have staff-led book groups, a lot of staff told the customers that we couldn’t or didn’t do book groups anymore. A better response would have been to reach out to the regulars in those groups to see if they wanted to take on the leadership of the group. At one location, two retired staff members took on the group leadership and the groups stayed strong. Another possibility would be to ask interested customers if they wanted to start a group, then help those people find each other.

    We don’t have to “ban” these sorts of valuable library experiences. But we may have to find different ways to do them. And what better way than involving the customers even more?

  • Kris

    Somebody put on an audio book, preferably a children’s classic, and give these little knitters a shared, literate experience.

  • Eileen

    I think it is terrible to have place that only fits the “brand” library – a library could perhaps replace the town halls and children and people could meet there doing lots of things.

    here in the uk it would not be allowed because of health and safety regulations – which is even worst..

    hope they change their mind..:)

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