A reader in Corpus Christi sent us this sign from her local library. It’s kind of hard to read, thanks to the glare (and I’m glaring myself!). But after warning that no children can be there during school hours — I guess homeschoolers should avoid the place? — it says that at all OTHER times:
“Police may be called if a child under 15 is not accompanied by an adult or older sibling.”
I understand that libraries are not free day care centers. But they aren’t strip clubs either. In fact, usually they are filled with books and other interesting materials. And people who actually WANT kids to come in.
Rather than go home to their phones.
To think a disapproving, “Shhhhhh!” used to be the biggest threat to library users. Now it’s Texas Penal Code 22.041. (Not to mention Ordinance 1124763 Chapter 33 Article II Minors Sec 33-40. Refer also to Sec. 33-41, Sec 33-42, and Sec 33-42.1 )
For a little perspective, check out this Music Man classic. So many kids. WHERE ARE THEIR PARENTS???
Thank you, Erika Reily, for sending us that sign!
I realize that I was a child shortly after the introduction of moveable type, but our public library (Wilmington, DE) had a kids’ room in the basement, which was cool in the summers and many of us didn’t have AC in our homes. So, on really hot days, we would ride our bikes there and spend an hour or two. Other times we’d go there to find the five books we could check out at a time. That was about a week’s worth of reading in the summer. This was when we were 7, 8 or 9. When we could be trusted to walk downtown by ourselves, or pay attention to traffic rules when riding the bikes.
Wilmington was a real city, but it was a small community, and the librarians knew us, at least by sight and our library cards.
By 15, we were using the adult library upstairs for reading and research.
This speaks to the larger issue of the loss of community. We’d see the librarians at the supermarket (Acme, anyone?) or other places.
Finally, the idea of barring access to one of the most magical places of our childhood because you don’t have an adult completely undermines the library experience, which is all about exploration and discovery. Best of all, for those of us who didn’t have wealthy families or an extensive allowance (beyond the occasional Slurpee on those hot days), it was completely FREE.
Guess I better go harumph in the corner, but this makes me sad.
Imagine if you were a home schooled 15 year old. This is terrible.
We were ENCOURAGED, including by the school to use the library. Which I did many times on my own, including researching homework assignments. Where else? So now kids without parents or older siblings are sadly screwed? Heartbreaking. So, so wrong, IMO. Having so disadvantaged, excluded some kids, why have the library? Or assign anything where kids would have to go there? This is no fun and games. But I’d be tempted if I had a 4 year old w/ a 3 year old brother to drop them off for some looking through picture books, if not reading. What on Earth triggered this? Someone scared a teen might get a peek of something on evolution?
Thanks, Christopher Byrne
My time as an early pre-schooler was similar, in a small city in Upper Midwest. We kids knew the library rules, almost never got noisy, never defaced any book.
Us kids just knew that the library was the shared place for books, like we knew that the abandoned cow pasture on the west side of town was the place where we could stage cow patty flinging fights.
By the time I was nine or ten, my parents, and some friends parents, told the librarian that we kids were given access to all of the library, as long as we followed the rules about politeness, sharing, peacefulness (non-vandalism was just presumed for anyone in kindergarten or above).
On the other hand, on the reply about library access for kids back in the 1950’s,
If there was anyone, any age, disrupting the library’s purpose back then, such a creep would earn the ire of a vast majority of the community, possibly be ostracized, lose all trust.
My kids go into the library to pick up books independently. They’d be crushed if they couldn’t do that anymore.
We were ENCOURAGED, including by the school to use the library. Which I did many times on my own, including researching homework assignments. Where else? So now kids without parents or older siblings, no computer, are sadly screwed? Heartbreaking. So, so wrong, IMO. Having so disadvantaged, excluded some kids, why have the library? Or assign anything where kids would have to go there? This is no fun and games. But I’d be tempted if I had a 4 year old w/ a 3 year old brother to drop them off for some looking through picture books, if not reading. What on Earth triggered this? Someone scared a teen might get a peek of something on evolution?
Of course, libraries don’t want to contribute to truancy. This is much ado about nothing if the library staff take into account reasonable explanations for why someone is there during a school day such those outlined in the above comments.
If, on the other hand, a library somewhere doesn’t want say 10 or 12 year olds reading, researching etc. on their own on the weekends and at night, this is every bit as ridiculous as the post suggests . . . . but in all fairness, that’s not what seems to be the case here.
I don’t approve of this at all, having spent a good part of my childhood at a library. But I have to wonder what made them do this. Surely it could not have been a few homeschoolers there during normal school hours. I would guess that either some parents were leaving disruptive kids there for free babysitting and complained they were being discriminated against when told not to do it. Liability law being what it is could also be responsible, I.e. a child left there got hurt and the parents sued.