Kids and Libraries: Room to grow

Hosmer_Library,_1960 (1)

Wikemedia commons. Retrieved October 20 2017 from here   

What is the first thing you think about when a library comes to mind? For me, it’s a relaxing place, quiet, where I can check out a few books and if I have the time sit down and read a graphic novel or two. I don’t work at a library yet, but I suspect the ‘relaxing’ side of that image might go through some changes when I do. I think the quiet part however, should be a given in a normal library. A patron should feel that when they come to the library they are somehow stepping away from the hustle and stepping into a more tranquil environment.

Kids, younger and older, are a fixture of libraries and a wonderful one. Parents have a great role to play here in introducing their children to that ‘magic quiet’ of a library. However, there will be times when their child will be there alone. Peck (2014) talks about homework centers as a practical solution for ‘latchkey’ kids, or kids that need access to services they don’t have at home. With the changing family structure, this is bound to be a service that becomes more relevant and libraries will have to evolve to match that demand.

There is a similar service already offered by a number of council libraries around Brisbane in the form of study rooms. I went past Brisbane Square Library and thought I would check out this service. I found they offered a variety of rooms and settings. They begin with their learning lounges that anyone can access. As the name suggests, you sit at a lounge and use the computers. The next level is the study rooms. To use those, the patron needs to ring up first thing in the morning at 8.30 am. I spoke to Garth, who explained to me those rooms go quickly as they are very popular.  They are designed for up to four people and they are free to hire as long as you are not using them for commercial purposes. Finally, the library offers meeting rooms. These come in three categories depending on the size of the meeting. Category 1 seats 20 to 50 people, category 2 seats 35 to 120 people and category 3 seats up to 150 people. Category three is only available at Brisbane square. The rooms include Laptop connectivity, data projectors TV/DVD/CD. There is a variety of category 1 and 2 rooms in libraries all over Brisbane.

Something that came through in the twitter chat the other night was the general theme that the rules of the library should be enforced if someone is misbehaving. Peck also talks about this and the need to ensure any issues are dealt with to ensure everyone has the same level of access in the library. I agree with that assessment. It’s also important to point out this goes both ways. The librarian needs to ensure they put their best foot forward by using good customer service and sensitivity. It’s amazing how far a little empathy can take you.

 

4 thoughts on “Kids and Libraries: Room to grow”

  1. Interesting research on the study rooms available. Do you think that any youths would be hiring them as seems to be targeting the general user base? In my opinion a dedicated program for after school kids would be better as that way a library can cater for most drop ins and not have them wandering around the library. It is however hard to find libraries that offer these options from just searching online. I like the creative kids after school club: http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/community/libraries/whats-on/childrens-programs/pages/creative-kids-after-school-club.aspx It combines makerspace elements with a targeted program for after school kids.

    Perhaps unlike the research and readings which mostly come out of the USA system, Australian libraries don’t have such demand from school children. In any case, like you discuss, study rooms are available so that can be seen as an after school program even if it is not called that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you. I think a dedicated program would be better but after looking at readings for the week I thought this was the closest I could find in an Australian public library setting. I liked that it was a versatile service that any school kid could access, as long as they ring up early enough on the day.

      The creative kids’ club you mention sounds great. Again, for the purposes of an after school service it is limited as they only offer it on Wednesdays from 4.30 pm. But the idea is there. As I commented on my blog, this issue is bound tho take on increasing relevance as family structures change. It’s great we’re talking about it. Thanks for your comment.

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  2. I really liked your post about seeing the space in libraries as a great opportunity for kids and teens to “grow” and I think the example of Brisbane Square Library is a beautiful one. I would like to link up to your last two sentences where you mention that librarians should show sensitivity and empathy. And these points are the things which make this topic sort of a difficult one in my opinion or leaves space of discussion. How much freedom is acceptable and in which cases should the librarian intervene if parents are not around. Maybe it is difficult for me because I don’t have kids and I’m not really experienced in working with kids but I think hitting that “sweet spot” of control and letting them grow is the key point. For sure some seperate spaces help to bring some boundaries within the library and let the kids discover the library in a safe way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that there should be a designated program for kids to address the need regarding after school times. From what I can see there really isn’t anything specific to that at the moment. I chose to review this service because it was similar to what the readings mentioned. I definitely agree with you- there need to be limits as to the amount of freedom a child can have inside a library. If the parents are not around, that’s a tricky issue isn’t it? As usual I think there needs to be a balance, as you mention, between letting them grow and experience and following the rules.

      Liked by 1 person

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