Monday, July 25, 2005

Kids these Days...

I've mentioned before that my library has trouble with large groups of free-roaming kids. They seem to think we're a playground. Here's what we've had to reprimand them about:

1. Creating noise in the computer lab causing patrons to complain
2. Creating noise in the stacks causing patrons to complain
3. Running and yelling in the stairwell/elevator
4. Continuously riding up and down the elevator
5. Going up to patrons and asking for money for the vending machines
6. Cursing/rudeness towards staff (a specific incident with a student assistant last Friday night)

They have really become a nuisance. We speak to them about their behavior to no effect. As the last item says, they abuse us and disregard anything we say. We finally resorted to calling the police to deal with them, and now, if they are being disruptive, we do not have to speak to them but simply call the police. The police then speak to them and call their parents to come pick them up. It's a shame we have to resort to such drastic measures.

Not all kids are bad. I know this. I'm met with examples everyday. My university works with several programs involving high school and middle school aged kids. They come to the library to use our resources and are typically well behaved. They have a good time while here and not at the expense of other patrons.

These bad apples are another story. The fact that they're allowed to gallivant all over town after dark without an adult really upsets me. Crime is still a reality, and these guys are still just kids. How can their parents let them go off like they do?

In a perfect world, we would work with these kids and find ways to constructively fill their time, but we're an academic library. We have no YA section or YA librarian. All we can manage is damage control. I suspect one reason the kids come here is because the public libraries have had trouble with these guys as well and have revoked their public library privileges. It's a shame that these kids are just being shrugged off by one institution to another. And unfortunately, when these kids finally provoke us enough, my library will ban them as well and call the police if the kids visit our library again.

I'm having a hard time after writing that last paragraph feeling too upset about the thought that these kids will be banned. I mean wanting to help is one thing, refusing help is another. We told these kids how they should behave, and they refused to listen to us. In the end, can't it be said that these kids are bringing this upon themselves? I know no one wants to be hard on children, and we think of them as these innocents that should be protected and cared for, but on the other hand, you've got to face reality. It's one thing to be locked out of the house and go to the library for shelter, it is quite another to go to the library and cause mayhem, locked out of the house or not.

I wonder if part of the problem is a group/mob mentality. All the problems are being caused by one group of children. We know them on sight. I think if they were to come in individually, they would be tamer, but instead, they band together and proceed with the mischief.

The hard line is finally what I'm going to settle for. We are an academic library, and it is the public's privilege to use our resources not their right. If they abuse their privileges, then their privileges will be taken away. We do not offer storytime, or activities to occupy our students, so I should not feel guilty that we don't for these kids. If they can't understand that you do not scream at the top of your lungs in an elevator, and you do not play tag among the bookcases, and will not respect library staff's authority, then they need to be shown the door and told they can no longer come back, and if they try to come back, call UPD to come and explain to them and their parents why they are not allowed on university grounds anymore.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Spike said...

Tough to deal with. Can't offer you any advice. I've only had to eject one person from my workplace and he was asking for it in spades, the stupid bastard.

6:58 AM, July 26, 2005  
Blogger Snooze said...

Hey VL, I feel your pain, but when I worked in an academic library, all the problems you describe came from the students themselves. Plus they had sex in the stairwells (kind of laughable}, brought full meals into the library, and attended library workshops pissed out of their skulls. Oh yeah, and vandalised/stole material. I wish I could have banned them...

2:47 PM, July 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear you -- I work in a public library with an awsome YA librarian, and even with all our terrific programs & a cool and comfortable YA section, we still get vandals of all shapes, sizes, and ages. One amusing teen came to the reference desk the other day and asked me if we had the high school summer reading list. When I asked him "for what grade?" he replied "high school" with a look on his face like I was the stupid one.

3:20 PM, July 26, 2005  
Blogger Sister said...

Kids do what kids do because adults let them get away with it. If you draw the line and they know where it is and what the negative consequences are of crossing it, chances are, if there's consistancy, they will behave. The problem is parents are too busy trying to be their kid's "buddy" rather than their parents and don't want to discipline. Therefore they get away with shit and think other adults are just bitchy. If parents actually stood up to their own offspring once in a while, the world would be a better place!

4:17 PM, July 27, 2005  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

I would hate to be an elementary school teacher these days. Kids are so much more obstinate and overconfident now. Sometimes it's impossible to tell where they get it from. I know it's not always the parents fault. I think the 'climate' of society has changed drastically in only a couple of years, and we're seeing the fallout by way of kids' attitudes.

11:50 AM, August 01, 2005  
Anonymous Spike said...

I would hate to be an elementary school teacher these days.

Ditto. I teach adults and they're childish enough :)

3:27 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger CW said...

It never ceases to anaze me when I come across people (children, adults) behaving so badly, who don't see what your *&^%ing problem is when you point out their stupidity or plain awfulness. I mean, is my sense of shame/propriety/call-it-what-you-will overdeveloped or something??

Sometimes it can be funny too though. Like the guy drinking beer in the library I work at, who when I told him he couldn't do that here, argued that Hey, it's light beer, and I pay your salary!

5:42 PM, August 18, 2005  

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