Orange Co. (FL) Libraries Ban Lone Adults from Kids' Sections

In attempt to make their children's areas more safe, Orange County (FL) libraries are no longer allowing adults without children to loiter in its children's area. While adults will be able to select materials, they will not be allowed to loiter. The Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) says they think that this is one of the first official policies of its kind, but anticipate that more libaries will follow suit. More here from the Herald Tribune.

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We're all suspect, and that means you.

I happen to love childrens books and always enjoyed spending time picking them out, perusing them for quality and readability. Sometimes it's easier to pick good books for younger children without them being present. Gee thanks Big Bro.

Re:We're all suspect, and that means you.

They're not saying you can't get books, they're saying you can't 'hang out'.

I can agree

We have a similar policy which pretty much states that people over the age of 18 who visiting the library without children aren't allowed to loiter in the children's section. Believe me, we have our reasons.

See I don't know how bad other libraries are, but I can safely assume we're one of the worst when it comes to sexual predators roaming our communities and then our stacks. Yakima has a huge amount of sex offenders per capita. Many of these people live downtown, and more than a few live less than half a mile from the library. My supervisor's daughter is a cop, and she has commented that she has yet walk into the library and not see either someone she's previously arrested or a sex offender or both. We know who most of them are.

With that kind of scum wandering around, we had to institute some kind of proceedure is we find one just kind of hanging around the children's department for no reason at all.

Addendum: I just did a search through our local sex offender registry. No less than eight registered sex offenders live within one mile of the library. Of these, five are level three and three are level two.

Re:We're all suspect, and that means you.

We've got a similar informal policy, as we've had at least one very unfortunate incident happen. There are adult, child-free regulars who do use and "hang out" in our children's section, but they're known to us--storytellers and folks who do serious research using children's lit, etc. But, you get the occassional lone adult who just gives you the willies....

I get super creeped out by the men who hang out in the Young Adult area and open scan to see who's there, or who openly leer. Yuck yuck yuck.

reality check

ALSC, in this case, didn't do their homework. This is already formal or informal policy in every large library children's area I have ever worked in. Picking out books and using the collection is fine, bringing the newspaper there as an excuse to stare at little kids is not. Adults tend to intimidate kids off the computers, out of the comfortable chairs, and away from the desirable areas.

It shouldn't be too difficult

Looking at the restrictions on sex offenders, I would think any library would have good cause for such a policy:

The following conditions are from the Renton WA level 3 offenders’page
No contact with minors, the victim of the offense, or the victim's family. No frequenting of places where juveniles are known to congregate and cannot live with any female who has victim-aged children.

No contact with the victims of the crimes; no contact with anyone 24 months or younger; cannot frequent places where juveniles will be without supervision by an adult 25 years old or older.

No contact with minor boys under 18 years of age; No direct or indirect contact with victims of the crimes.

Do not initiate or have prolonged physical contact with children; Avoid places where minors are known to congregate; Inform CCO of any romantic relationships to verify there are no children involved and that the adult is aware of his conviction history; Hold no position of authority or trust involving children.

No direct or indirect contact with victims of crimes; No Contact with minors; Avoid places where minors congregate such as schools, parks, playgrounds, toy stores, etc.

Smithtown NY Library policy on notification of sex offenders

Sex offenses are under reported and recidivism is under reported, so libraries, being places children congregate, should take necessary precautions.

Re:I can agree

Our library also bans lone adults from camping out in the children's department since public libraries seem to be magnets for some mighty disturbed people. I'm in children's and we do check our local sex offenders site just to know what's going on. I have sighted at least six offenders in the adult areas, with two listed as sexual predators. We had one individual, now in prison for re-offending, who would come into the children's department to look for books on wrestling. He always wanted to linger but we told him he could take the books and read them in the adult area.
Another of these guys tried to grab two little girls as they were leaving the library but staff called the police and the man was arrested. (The girls have never come back and this was two years ago.)
Our library is in an urban area, located near two halfway houses, and has a sizable homeless population. Maybe this seems restrictive to some adults, but better safe than sorry.

Re:It shouldn't be too difficult

My God, your level 3 offenders are enough to chill the blood. We never get this level of information; just if the victim was under 18 and if the offending individual is listed as "predatory". I think some of our staff would go off the deep end if this much info was given to them, though.

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