There is a lot of talk about made by Maplewood Memorial Library in New Jersey lately. In case you hadn’t heard, 2 branches in this library system will be closing from 2:45pm – 5pm on weekdays because of problems with teens in the library. Until I actually read the announcement I was torn between thinking this is crazy and this makes sense. Now that I have what the board has to say I see that they have done everything in their power (with the exception of hiring security guards) to keep the situation under control.
We have struggled with this problem for over ten years. We have worked with legal counsel to study our options as a public institution and to develop a behavior policy. We have hired after-school monitors to help with crowd control and behavior issues. We have reached out to students through TAG, our Teen Advisory Group. We have notified parents of the problem through Home and School Association publications. We have made public officials aware of the on-going issue. And we have worked closely with school officials and law enforcement. In spite of these efforts, the problem persists.
The problem as I see it – is the parents. Why are these adults sending their kids to the library as an after school program? That doesn’t sound very responsible to me. And if the parents are sending their kids to the library instead of to a baby-sitter, why doesn’t the school board fund programs at the library to keep the kids occupied instead of letting them loiter there for hours?
Hopefully, the adults effected by this inconvenience will take action to provide a better child care system for the area kids so that the library can open it’s doors again.
What the announcement doesn’t say is that the library will re-open at 5pm for the working adults and stay open regular hours after that. So this closure is sort of like a siesta – something I think all businesses in America need to incorporate (but that’s a discussion for another day).
[update] Article from the Star Ledger: Maplewood Library, citing noise, plans to shut middle schoolers out [/update]