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.